LAHORE Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said corruption is the biggest hurdle in the development of the country and there is a need for collective efforts for weeding out this scourge from the society. The Punjab government has taken solid measures for elimination of corruption and promotion of the culture of transparency in the province, he said during a meeting with Director General Anti-Corruption Justice (r) Kazim Ali Malik at CMs Secretariat here on Thursday. Measures for elimination of corruption and performance of Anti-Corruption Establishment was reviewed in the meeting. DG ACE also presented annual performance report of his department. The CM said corruption had weakened the foundations of the country and Pakistan had become dependent on others, and Pakistan was under heavy foreign debt. Elimination of corruption is essential for achieving self-reliance and putting the country on the road to progress and prosperity. The last era was marked by loot and plunder and national resources were misappropriated in the name of development projects, and advance payments were made without completion of development schemes and substandard material was used in the execution of uplift projects, he said, adding that the Lahore Ring Road and Lahore-Kasur Road were a proof of this fact. Real estate business was promoted in the name of the LRR project. The Lahore-Kasur Road also could not be completed within the stipulated period due to corruption. However, the present government removed all obstacles in the implementation of this project and not only took action against the contractors engaged in malpractices but also completed this project which is now a milestone in the development of the province, he said, while quoting scandals of the Punjab Bank, and Haris Steel Mills scandal. It is highly unfortunate that even Hujaj were not spared and corruption and irregularities were committed in Haj arrangements, he mentioned. He said the third-party audit system had been made compulsory for all major development projects. In order to eliminate corruption, the ACE has been reorganised and made an autonomous institution and an honest judge has been appointed as its head, he added. He asked Director General Anti-Corruption to take action against the corrupt elements without any discrimination. Justice (r) Kazim Ali Malik informed that 11553 inquiries were initiated by the Establishment during the last 11 months, and out of which 8225 have been disposed. He said cases had been registered on the basis of 1480 inquiries out of which 1330 cases have been disposed. He said 833 persons accused of corruption were arrested during the last 11 months and challans of 702 cases were presented in the court. Moreover, more than 140 million rupees were recovered during this period.