Capital’s only inn ‘rented out’ to NAB
ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA), which is supposed to initiate public welfare projects, has handed over the only inn built for the low income citizens to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on rent.
Every week, hundreds of people from different parts of the country come to the federal capital for different works such as degree attestations and court hearings. The inn, commonly known as Saray-i-Aam, was built at Sector G-7 to accommodate those who cannot afford staying in hotels.
The inn, which had a kitchen and a small lawn, was inaugurated on March 17, 1987, by the then CDA chairman, Mazhar Rafi.
Built in 1987, the 19-room building provided boarding facility to visitors from other cities who could not afford staying in hotels
The 19-room inn provided boarding and lodging facility to the low-income individuals who can spend a night there by paying only Rs75.
However, the civic agency could not expand and improve the facility and for some time it was taken over by workers of the PPP. In 2013, the CDA closed down the inn after getting it vacated from the PPP workers.
“Instead of renting it out, the authorities should have expanded the single-storey building. They could have easily expanded it to provide boarding facility to more and more people. This could have generated revenues for the civic agency,” said an official of the CDA, who requested not to be named.
“If the CDA has handed over the building to NAB it would be a big injustice with people belonging to low income groups who come to the capital from other cities for a short stay,” said Shahid Ali, a resident of Sector G-7/3-1.
“I still remember there used to be huge rush of people in the inn but it is strange that the CDA has rented it out,” he said, adding everyone cannot afford staying in hotels and guest houses in Islamabad.
Another citizen, Qasim Khan, said instead of renting out the building, the CDA should have improved the facility.
When contacted, Malik Saleem, the CDA deputy director media, said: “Since the building was lying abandoned, we handed it over to NAB on rent.” He said NAB was a government organisation and had requested the CDA to provide it a building on rent.
“It was a deal between two organisations,” he said and added that the amount of the rent was being determined by the costing department of the CDA finance wing.
In reply to a question, he said NAB was an independent investigating agency and there was no link between the renting out of the inn and the CDA cases being investigated by the watchdog.
“Our cases are being investigated purely on merit.” He said when the building was constructed there were very few hotels in Islamabad. However, now there is no use of such a facility because people prefer staying in hotels.
The official said the inn remained under-utilised for a long period of time.
Sources said the inn was under the administrative control of the directorate of municipal administration which has now been devolved to the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation.
They said a few days before the devolution, the CDA handed over the building to NAB.
It may be added that a number of corruption cases in the CDA are being investigated by NAB. The investigations of some of the cases have been pending for years. However, a senior officer of the CDA said there was no connection of the corruption cases with the renting of the building.
He said since the building was lying abandoned, the CDA rented it out. “First, we thought to establish a school in the building but there was no playground so we decided to rent it out.”
When contacted, NAB spokesman Nawazish Ali Asim confirmed that they had acquired the building on rent. He, however, said the CDA cases, which were being investigated by NAB, had nothing to do with the deal.
“Our chairman is a very strict person and always follows rules and laws. And there is a zero tolerance in corruption cases,” he said, adding NAB got the building to accommodate its investigators who come from the regional offices to attend court hearings and official work in Islamabad. The building is very suitable for the officials to stay in and is also ideal regarding security point of view, he added.