Govt’s incompetence inflates cost of construction project exponentially

  • Cost of constructing federal courts, tribunals in Lahore balloons from Rs184mn to Rs2,150mn
  • Approved in May 2004, project faced inordinate delays due to indifference, lack of coordination between federal, Punjab govts

ISLAMABAD: The cost of a years-old project involving the construction of federal courts and tribunals in the premises of the building of State Bank on the Mall, Lahore, which was originally estimated at Rs184 million, has ballooned to Rs2,150 million in latest revisions, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to documents available with Pakistan Today, the original PC-1 was submitted to the Planning and Development Division (P&D) for revision at a cost of Rs1,145 million back in February 2009. The P&D Division returned the PC-1 in June 2011 for upgrading the cost estimate as per prevailing market rates to avoid further revision of PC-1.

Later on, NESPAK submitted a draft of revised PC-1 at a cost of Rs1,200 million, which was later tabled and approved by division concerned and also by Lahore High Court (LHC) in October 2015.

According to the latest revised PC-1, the cost of the project stands at Rs2185.762 million which originally stood at Rs184 million.

The plight of the project, however, doesn’t stop here as the bureaucracy of Punjab resorted to delaying tactics like delays in issuance of NOC of Environment Protection Agency and Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) and approval of the drawings from a competent forum. TEPA gave its approval in February 2017 while EPT Punjab, later on, gave its approval on March 28, 2017.

Since April 2017, despite several reminders and letters that were written by Ministry of Law and Justice to Punjab chief secretary requesting his office to convene a meeting of the special committee and expedite formal approval of the building drawing has not been accorded hitherto. The latest letter, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today, was written on March 30 and met the similar fate.

The repeated requests for a meeting fell on deaf ears for the past two years.

A source in Ministry of Law and Justice, on condition of anonymity, confided in Pakistan Today that the indifference of Punjab government and immense lack of seriousness has caused a loss of millions to the national exchequer. “It has been almost a decade-and-a-half now, yet the project remains in limbo. Punjab chief secretary is even shying away from giving us an hour of his precious time. No wonder the state of affairs have come to such a grinding halt,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Law, Justice and Human Rights Division is the sponsoring and implementing agency of the project while Pakistan Public Works Department is the executing agency and NESPAK is its consultants.

The project aims to renovate old State Bank building where 25 courts and tribunals of different disciplines including customs, excise, special courts, commercial courts, drug courts, federal service tribunal and environmental protection tribunal are to be housed in a building spanning over a total covered area of 253,300 square ft.