ISLAMABAD: The city managers of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and District Municipal Administration (DMA) has identified at least 141 fuel stations operating illegally in the federal capital.
The accusations range from tax default to illegal constructions, operation without NOCs [no-objection certificate] and enjoying direct access to main expressways in violation of court orders, according to the documents available with Pakistan Today.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that no right of way (ROW) on highways could be granted for commercial activity, the documents claimed, adding that such access caused considerable harm to green belts in the city.
The court added that awarding highway-access was a result of “collusiveness, irrelevant considerations, deceptive approach and engineered fraud by the officials of CDA and its beneficiaries”.
The court further directed CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed to conduct a preliminary inquiry and refer the scam to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal investigative Agency (FIA) if needed.
The preliminary committee formed on special directives of the court stated that civic agency departments had not taken action against “illegal construction, collection of different taxes and fuel stations operating without an NOC”.
The preliminary committee added that a proper inquiry should be conducted into the scam and identify those responsible for allowing these illegalities to be committed.
The committee said the planning commission or the Building Control Section (BCS) failed to take action against the fuel stations working without any prior NOC.
The committee’s findings added that the planning wing, the BCS, and the DMA didn’t maintain official records and had little familiarity and no coordination with official channels as to how to run these fuel stations.
According to CDA board decision 2014, “DMA is responsible to collect outstanding dues on account of Annual Departmental Charges of Rs50000 per annum” which the DMA failed to collect.
There also appears to be no proper mechanism on how to collect taxes from fuel stations.
The committee in its findings added that the Building Control Directorate (BCD) didn’t make visits to the fuel stations to monitor violations and no Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were framed to check these stations as a number of them were operating illegally across the capital.
The committee demanded records on fuel stations operating on GT Road to ascertain why taxes had been collected from some fuel stations while others were spared. Civic agencies responded that fuel stations operating on GT Road were excluded from taxes while the Regional planning directorate stated that tax was imposed on all fuel stations.
A source who was familiar with the process of the preliminary committee told Pakistan Today that committee members visited 141 fuel stations in Islamabad to investigate the issue. He added that the charges of additional facilities had not been paid by owners of restaurants and tuck shops.
The committee proposed a separate inquiry to ascertain the blame on those responsible. The committee findings further added that due to lack of information with relevant directorates an audit should be conducted to identify losses to the national exchequer.
The committee directed the enforcement directorate to take action against all fuel stations that have direct access from the main highways as well as seal all those who are operating without NOCs.
When Pakistan Today contacted DMA director Zaffar Iqbal, he said that DMA did initially start a process to collect taxes from fuel stations and that the DMA submitted around Rs50 million to the national exchequer but later this process was disturbed due to protest and pressure from trade unions. He added, “Now we have started issuing notices to different fuel stations individually and more than 50 notices have already been issued for the collection of taxes.”
When contacted, CDA’s spokesman Syed Sardar Shah said, “I have asked the relevant department(s) to update me on this issue but have received no response.” He added, “There is zero-tolerance for any illegal or corrupt practice and strict action will be taken in term of negligence.”