ISLAMABAD  – The Capital Development Authority has to pay over Rs 300 million on account of miscalculated streetlights for the last one decade, exposing flagrant negligence of the authority’s finance managers.

The cash-starved authority was supposed to pay bills for 42500 streetlights but it kept paying for 65000 streetlights across the federal capital, inflicting loss of over Rs 300 million, an official document revealed.

The CDA pays for streetlights on estimated basis with no meters installed to show exact units. The CDA had been paying lump sum Rs 1 billion a year instead of Rs 653 million for the exact number of lights fittings. Recently, as part of a drive to conduct energy audit of Islamabad, the Street Lights Directorate of the CDA counted the streetlight fittings that revealed that there were around 42500 light fittings in the city instead of 65,000 as was previously thought of.

“This would require the negotiation with IESCO for reduction in the electricity bill,” said a CDA official related to the exercise.

He said that at present, the CDA ended up by paying a large sum of around Rs 1.5 billion in a year on account of electricity consumption alone, out of which the street lights had major share of around Rs 1 billion on estimated basis.

The official said tha the unmetered streetlights of the Federal Capital had always been a bone of contention between the CDA and the IESCO over billing as the former wanted to minimize its expenditures while the latter desired to maximize its receipts.

The official opined that if meters were installed on lights fittings, the billed amount could be reduced substantially because a considerable number of polls either remained off or did not even exist. On the other hand, he said the IESCO expressed inability to install meters due to high load on a single circuit.

He said that an effort was made in the past in year 2000 by army monitoring teams, which got meters installed through IESCO that resulted into reduction of bills but later the meters were either burnt or stolen and the billing was reverted to estimated basis again.

Early, this year, the CDA had invited firms for conducting energy audit of streetlights to reduce bills. Meanwhile, the formation concerned of the CDA convinced the IESCO to charge the bills on fixed unit of 37 million per month that cost about Rs 68 million that led the CDA to drop the plan of hiring firms to conduct the audit.

The official said that as the government had now launched an energy conservation drive that had resulted into switching off more polls that called for another round of negotiations with the IESCO for reducing the bills. He said in this situation, the CDA was considering to call for proposals afresh from firms with more stringent terms of reference and that the authority would prefer the firms having experience of dealing with the IESCO.

Meanwhile, learning lessons from embarrassments brought by the dubious balloting of plots in the past, the Capital Development Authority has finally formulated new standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure transparency by inviting corruption watchdogs to monitor the process, besides using the latest technologies.

In its recent meetings, the CDA Board has approved the new SOPs introducing various corrective and preventive measures to make transparent the process of balloting for plots, Hajj and others. According to the new SOPs, the organizations like Transparency International, National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency will be invited along with other stakeholders and media to ensure transparency in the process.

A video recording of the whole balloting process will be arranged to make it part of the official record. Nomination and intimation of representative will be made to coordinate balloting activities with the IT Directorate of the authority at least two weeks prior to balloting date and that the balloting information will be published in newspapers and CDA website one week prior to balloting date.

After finalizing and notifying the balloting venue, the duly signed hard and soft copy of data to be used in balloting will be provided to the IT Directorate at least four days before the balloting and the data will be considered frozen.

Any change in the received data will be accepted with the approval of both members concerned and any change 24 hours before balloting will be approved only by the authority’s chairman. The IT Department will publish a signed copy of results on the website and that the random balloting using seed value from participants will be conducted at the venue.

At the end of balloting, the IT Directorate will hand over the printed results to the representative of the directorate concerned for necessary action. Moreover, the programme code to be used for balloting will be vetted by the Pakistan Computer Bureau and placed on record for future usage.