Inquiry in the Islamabad airport project blames CAA for delay

ISLAMABAD: According to an inquiry the Supreme Court of Pakistan was informed that Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), its consultants and contractors were responsible for the delays in completion of the New (NBBIA) and increase in the project cost on Tuesday.

Previously known as New Islamabad International Airport, the project conceived in 1986 for construction of an airport at Fateh Jang to mitigate rush at Islamabad airport, was renamed NBBIA in 2008.

The inquiry was conducted by Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Niaz under the directions of the ministry of defense and then submitted before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The bench was hearing a petition against the delay in the NBBIA project and appointment of an unqualified person as director general CAA.

“Arbitrary decisions taken by CAA at various stages of the project have led to cost escalation and also indirectly affected the scheduled working of the overall design process. This has further delayed the process of award of contracts and implementation of work. Various committees, oversight bodies constituted at different stages gave recommendations for major changes in the scope of the project, which were then approved by CAA Board,” the report read.

Advocate Fasihuddin Khan Vardag in his petition has challenged the appointment of retired air marshal Khalid Chaudhry as DG CAA and claimed that the delay had escalated the cost of the project from Rs35 billion to Rs73 billion.

The inquiry report prepared in January 2013 further notes that Planning and Development Department of CAA was unable to deliver due to lack of expertise for handling a project of this magnitude.

“The CAA board was forced to take decision at different stages of the project implementation on the basis of inaccurate assessments,” the report reads in the concluding paragraphs.

The bench, also comprising Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, issued notices to Attorney General of Pakistan Muneer A Malik to explain the method and procedure for appointment of Khalid Chaudhry as DG CAA.

Earlier responding to a court query DG CAA said he was asked to join the office by the government and he never applied for the post.