LAHORE - A probe committee of the Punjab Irrigation Department has pointed out a mega embezzlement of Rs70 million on extension of Minchin Flood Bund Rahim Yar Khan and also fixed the responsibility on senior irrigation officials including a chief engineer.

As per the committee recommendations, the amount recommended for the construction of four studs and allied work was Rs20 million but the Bahawalpur chief engineer allowed the work at a cost of Rs95 million. But, Punjab Irrigation Department Secretary Saif Anjum has formed another committee comprising two officers, an official said conditioning anonymity.

When contacted, the Irrigation Department Secretary neither responded the telephone call nor the SMS forwarded on his official cell number for comments on the issue.

Earlier, the Irrigation Department Secretary on the complaints of corruption had established a two-member committee comprising Chief Engineer and Principal Govt Engineering Academy Punjab Lahore, Ahmad Sher Dogar as convener while SPRU Deputy Director Muhammad Latif.

The committee probed the matter and devised 49-page comprehensive report and submitted to the Secretary Office. As per the report, those officials who are found involved included Bahawalpur Zone Chief Engineer Khurshid uz Zaman, Additional Secretary Technical Khalid Hussnain Qureshi, CE (D&F) Younus Bhatti, Rahim Yar Khan Circle Superintendent Engineer Rana Muhammad Asif, Dallas Canal Division Ex-XEN Abdul Qadir Abid, XEN Dallas Division Shabbir Haider, Lamma Canal Ex-SDO Raza Abbasi, RY Khan Lamma SDO Khalid Mehmood, Sharian Section Sub Engineer Shahid Hamid, Divisional Accounts Officer Sabir Ali Sabir and M/s Chaudhry Construction Company.

It is mentioned that the CE Bahawalpur, AS Technical or other concerned failed to produce the relevant record before the probe committee which has recommended that the amount of Rs70m be recovered from all of the mentioned above besides action against the responsible under PEEDA Act 2006 to recover the loss.

The probe committee also wrote that the Bahawalpur CE, at first stage approved an estimate of Rs40 million on July 9, 2013, and then a revised estimate of Rs95 million was sanctioned on October 23, 2013 just after three months. It was mentioned as the pre-planned corruption done by the Bahawalpur CE and Irrigation Secretariat to utilise a mega amount of Rs95 million. The report further said that “The Bahawalpur Chief Engineer, RY Khan SE and XEN Dallas Canal Division themselves decided to construct the additional stone studs in between the old studs and increased top length of studs from 15ft to 32ft without getting any direction from the department expert committee and the committee constituted by the Punjab chief minister. This, the committee said, was the grave violation of rules and misuse of authority by the CE Bahawalpur zone. Highlighting grave blunders in the execution of work, the committee said, total estimation of stone above and under water for four studs was 148,700 Cft, total stone issued was 326,700 Cft that shows 178,000 Cft stone in excess was used in the work.

The committee further highlighted that the work remained in progress in papers as not a single bill was processed or paid to the contractor before April 7, 2014. The committee after examining and scrutinising the available record concluded that unlawful and corrupt practice prevailed since release of budget till the payment to the contractor. It was also reflected in the report that the working methodology and record showed that acceptance letter was given to the contractor without any sanctioned estimate.

Regarding quality and quantity of the executed work, the inspection reports of expert committee and third party monitoring are self explanatory, the report adds.

The report says that it is not understood on what basis the amount of Rs95m was requested from the CM when there was no estimate on ground.

It further says that the Secretary Irrigation advised the CE Bahawalpur to engage TPM Consultants in monitoring and execution of work but no record was provided to them when they visited the site. “No significant role of the CE (D&F) has been seen in executing and monitoring of this work as desired by the authority” the report held.

The report further said, members of Expert Committee Hanif Khalid Bhatti and Syed Mehmoodul Hassan Shah visited the Minchin Bund sight and pointed out poor management of the work that resulted in higher cost and loss to the state. Though relevant record was not provided to the expert committee and the Secretary had to write the CE Bahawalpur and SE RY Khan to produce documents.