LAHORE - Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Syed Raghib Abbas Shah has resigned from his office almost three years before completion of his tenure and Federal Industries Secretary Zafar Mahmood has been appointed as the new chief of the authority.
Raghib Abbas Shah, while talking to The Nation, confirmed that he had sent his resignation to the Prime Minister’s office a few days back for some personal reasons.
The Establishment Division appointed Syed Raghib Abbas Shah as the Water and Power Authority Chairman in September 2012 after the approval of former PM Raja Pervez Ashraf for five years till 2017.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted his resignation today (Thursday) and appointed Zafar Mehmood as the new head of Wapda.
“My wife is seriously ill and I was unable to discharge my duties properly, so I decided to resign to take care of her properly,” Raghib Abbas Shah stated. However, official sources said the Wapda chairman did not resign for personal reasons; rather he was forced by the authorities to quit the office as the PM was unhappy with his performance. Moreover, he had differences with Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali. According to the officials, the prime minister asked his Principal Secretary Javed Aslam two months ago to form a technical committee to initiate an investigation against the Wapda chairman, proposing a NAB reference in case he was found guilty. The investigating committee found that Raghib Abbas diverted around Rs 8 billion under the Wapda head in PSDP to People’s Works Programme-11 on the directives of former PM Raja Pervez Ashraf. He failed to satisfy the committee regarding the utilisation of these funds.
Some officials were of the view that for his failure to launch effective measures to ease the crippling power crisis, the PML-N government had already decided to replace the Water and Power Development Authority chairman.
Raghib Shah was tasked to improve the power generation and distribution besides bringing the loadshedding under control, but the crisis even worsened under his management.
It is to be noted that Shah also served as the Wapda’s member (water) and held the slot of acting chairman after the tenure of former chairman Shakeel Durrani ended.
Raghib Abbas Shah joined Wapda as a junior engineer (civil) in 1974 after doing graduation in civil engineering from NED College.
According to media reports, Federal Industries Secretary Zafar Mahmood has been appointed as Wapda’s new chairman. Zafar has also served as water and power secretary and federal commerce secretary.
Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) former managing director Munawar Baseer, criticising the government decision of appointing a bureaucrat as the new head of Wapda, said the energy situation would not improve due to his appointment. He said some technical persons should be given the task of handling institutions like OGDC, Railways, PIA and Wapda as bureaucrats did not know the complexities and technicalities of these institutions. “The coming month will be very tough in terms of loadshedding as there will be no sufficient water for power generation before July and the non-technical head of Wapda will absolutely fail to manage the power breakdowns in the face of high electricity demand in May,” Munawar opined.