LAHORE - The Punjab Irrigation Department has failed to issue a notification to appoint Sajid Hussain Rizvi as project director for the Asian Development Bank-funded Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC) rehabilitation project worth Rs 22 billion, it is learnt.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif some three weeks ago approved the Irrigation Department’s summary for the appointment of Sajid Rizvi as LBDC director. The delay in issuance of a notification on the part of the department might annoy the funding agency, ADB.
Sources said the department stopped the issuance of the notification for the new director on the directions of Irrigation Minister Mian Yawar Zaman because the Services & General Administration Department had rejected the name of Riaz Rasheed, recommended by the minister, on the ground of being junior in the merit list, and forwarded Sajid Rizvi’s name for the slot of LBDC director. The CM Secretariat had approved the same accordingly.
Currently, Riaz Rasheed has been holding the additional charge of the project. The S&GAD had stated in writing that a junior officer who was also facing major penalties could not be posted against a significant slot meant for ensuring transparency. The sources said the minister wanted the same exercise for the selection of the project director to be repeated.
The Asian Development Bank-funded rehabilitation project is to be completed by September 30, 2015. Further delay in the appointment of its director might annoy the funding agency, they feared. The irrigation minister and the secretary were not available for comments.
The job of the project director is to supervise the LBDC and other ADB-funded rehabilitation mega projects of canals and barrages in the Punjab to the tune of billions of rupees, the officials said.
A Chief Minister’s Secretariat senior officer said Shahbaz Sharif wanted a senior person as the project director to ensure transparency in the ADB-funded programmes, including LBDC.
To materialise the merit policy, the CM approved the name forwarded by the Regulation Wing and rejected the name of a person recommended by the Irrigation Department as he did not deserve the coveted slot.
It merits mentioning here that a special high-level committee, headed by Planning & Development (P&D) Chairman Irfan Elahi, was formed to select a suitable officer for the slot. The committee comprising the administrative secretaries of the finance, irrigation and regulation departments shortlisted suitable candidates.
The committee further shortlisted names of Barrages Director Procurement Ejaz-ul-Hassan Kashif, Head Baloki XEN Sajid Rizvi and Upper Chenab Canal Circle Superintending Engineer Riaz Rasheed. The committee finally recommended the name of Rizvi suitable for the slot.
However, the Irrigation Department Punjab, ignoring the committee recommendations, had forwarded the name of an officer who was on third position. As per the interview results, Riaz Rasheed who enjoyed support of the minister could not satisfactorily answer the questions asked by the committee on financial matters, the sources revealed. The department, however, recommended Riaz Rasheed as LBDC director.
A senior officer of the P&D, conditioning anonymity, confirmed Ejaz-ul-Hassan was involved in the Taunsa Barrage inquiry while Riaz Rasheed was punished in a departmental inquiry.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has funded LBDC project worth Rs 21.78 billion. The Lower Bari Canal irrigates 1.7 million acres of land in districts Okara, Sahiwal, Kasur and Khanewal. The same bank has been funding the rehabilitation of Balloki Barrage, BS Link and other canals.