ISLAMABAD-Senior officials of Aiwan-e-Sadr on Thursday backtracked from revamping a zoo inside official residence of the President and distanced themselves from the project by shifting responsibility on Capital Development Authority.

However, according to the official documents available with Daily The Nation, the Military Secretary to the President had in fact granted the approval of said contract on the recommendations of his General Staff Officer-I, which apparently means that the consent of the respected President Dr. Arif Alvi was also available behind tendering process.

The civic body had flouted a tender notice amounting to Rs1,948,000 to construct a new cage for parrot in the zoo of Aiwan-e-Sadr, which invited severe criticism from a section of media by considering the project as contrary to the austerity campaign of the incumbent government.

The spokesperson of Aiwan-e-Sadr issued two press releases, which concocted the facts and given an impression as the President and the top level management of his official residence were unaware about the project and put the whole responsibility on lower staff of the CDA.

A statement issued by the spokesperson of Aiwan-e-Sadar in response of criticism on the same day had stated that the President Dr Arif Alvi had taken serious notice on publication of the tender notice by CDA for construction of new cage for parrot at Aiwan e Sadr.

“The President has ordered immediate withdrawal of the tender notice and initiation of an inquiry”, the press release stated, adding: “”The tender notice has been released without obtaining approval from the competent authority”.

The press release meant that the President himself or his subordinates were not informed about the tendering process because there was only mention of CDA officers in it, which was totally baseless and fabricated.

However, according to the official documents, the Military Secretary of the President had himself given the approval of the said construction work, which was forwarded by the General Staff Officer of Awan-e-Sadr (GSO).

“Involvement of such highest-level officers in the process substantiate the fact that the President was well aware about the nature of work and a demand to revamp the zoo at Awin-e-Sadr”, a senior officer of the civic body told on condition of anonymity, arguing: “If he (President) was unaware, then an inquiry should be launched against those officers who gave the approval for demand of work without prior approval of the President”.

On Friday, a separate letter was sent to CDA directing it to stop all projects being undertaken at Aiwan-e-Sadr in current financial year to observe the austerity drive.

But, a second press note issued in this regard by spokesperson of Aiwan-e-Sadr again put responsibility on CDA by saying that the civic body was instructed to get prior clearance from the competent authority of the Aiwan-e-Sadr before planning and finalising any future project, when it was crystal clear from the record that the approval of Military Secretary to the President was available in this regard.

On the other side, the matter of fact is that the tender was not only to construct a cage for parrots but it also included two other cages measuring 75,000 square feet each to accommodate some 10 deer, which were already housed at the zoo.

The said zoo at Awan-e-Sadr is an offshoot of Murghzar Zoo and it was managed and controlled by Zoo Directorate of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad.

When contacted, Director Public Relations CDA Syed Safdar Shah avoided to directly comment on the story but sent a written response to this scribe which is being reproduced below as it is.

“This is part of maintenance grant from allocation in the budget of presidency whereas CDA is the executing agency. However, now instructions have been received from the presidency and further tendering has been withheld”.

Some state buildings i.e. President House and Parliament etc. are being managed by the CDA but from direct and exclusive budgetary allocation from the federal government.

A former Member Engineering CDA who did not wish to be named said that on the bases of demands received from Awan-e-Sadr, the civic body only prepares four quarterly maintenance plans according to budgetary releases from the Finance Division but their final approval is given by the management of the Awan-e-Sadr.