ISLAMABAD  - Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar on Wednesday expressed his dissatisfaction over the projects meant for rehabilitation of 2005 earthquake-affected areas.

During a visit to Balakot, the chief justice issued directives for the audit of projects in Bakaryal City and hinted at day-to-day hearing of the suo motu case wherein billions of rupees corruption by Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) has been alleged.

Along with Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, the CJP visited different earthquake affected areas and expressed his dismay over non-availability of medical facilities at newly-inaugurated King Abdullah Hospital, Balakot Tehseel Headquarter Hospital and Ayub Medical Complex.

On the occasion, he reprimanded ERRA officials and Medical Superintendent of King Abudllah Hospital Manshera. The chief justice directed District and Sessions Judge Manshera and the hospital MS to appear before the court in three days and present the report.

He also visited the government hospital which is working in a rented building for last 13 years after the earthquake. The CJP also offered Fateha in a graveyard at Government High School Balakot. He asked government officials if their own children were getting education in that school.

Reviewing shelter houses in Balakot, Justice Saqib asked from ERRA officials whether they can live in those shabby conditions even for a single day.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said that he was disheartened by rehabilitation work in earthquake-hit areas, adding that protection and provision of basic human rights to the people “is our responsibility”.

Enquiry officer investigating fund embezzlement for Balakot, District and Sessions Judge Mansehra presented a 72-page report to the chief justice during his visit to New Balakot City.

The decision of sudden visit by the chief justice was made during the hearing of the case in Supreme Court’s principal seat at Islamabad. Following his announcement for the visit, all the cases fixed for hearing before the bench were dropped.

Earlier, during the hearing of suo moto case on Alleged ERRA corruption, the chief justice briefly heard the applicant’s grievances and reply of the rehabilitation agency’s representative Brigadier Zafar.

The bench expressed dissatisfaction over the ERRA reply and said that 15 years have passed but no proper medical facility is being provided to the people of the quake-affected area.

The court learnt during the hearing that ERRA was spending 92 percent of its budget on administrative functions.

This led the chief justice to say: “Who is the person whose relatives have been hired in ERRA? Mr Brigadier, can you live in those shelters [which have been constructed for the quake affected? Bungalows might have been arranged for your residence. Is there any barracks for you?”

He said people in Balakot are living without houses, telling ERRA chief that this was his performance. He added that they [affected people] were millionaires and became penny-less in fraction of a second.

ERRA’s brigadier told the court that the authority was facing difficulties in getting ownership of the land. “If we get the ownership then the project will be completed in two years,” he said.

Responding to this, the chief justice asked, “What will the earthquake victims do for two years? Will the poor people keep staying under the sky for that long?”

According to statistics of Economic Affairs Division, the bench learnt that a total of $2.89 billion was received from international donors.

However, the applicant’s stance was contrary to this government claim. The applicant said that the International Donors Conference, held in November 2005, gathered $3.6 billion while a further $6.5 billion was committed by different international donors.

He alleged that Rs55 billion were transferred to Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) from the earthquake reconstruction fund while the remaining amount was adjusted in different accounts by the ERRA.

Brigadier Zafar negated the assertion, stating that the Authority was just an executing body. He said that ERRA received Rs290.85 billion wherein Rs190 billon were from government of Pakistan and Rs100 billion were from donors.

According to the ERRA report, there are a total 14,704 projects for the 2005 earthquake affected people. Of those, 6,962 projects are for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 2,755 projects for District Mansehra and 7,742 projects for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

Brigadier Zafar submitted that more than 10,589 projects have been completed: 5,168 projects in KP, 220 in Mansehra and 5,421 in AJK.

Brigadier Zafar said that Rs42.494 billion have been spent and another Rs37 billion are required for completion of different projects. He said work on 1,640 projects could not be initiated because of the lack of funds.

Regarding Bakarial city, he said that 11,436 kanals land was acquired for which federal government released Rs1.5 billion.

He said that 8,444 plots were there in the master plan but the process was started in 2007 and ended in 2009 as some residents were still occupying the land.

Earlier, addressing Manshera Bar Council, CJP Saqib Nisar said that after the devastating earthquake of 2005 rehabilitation projects have not been completed. Schools and hospital facilities are still unavailable in the earthquake-hit areas.

 

CJP’S CONVOY MET NO ACCIDENT

Supreme Court on Wednesday rebutted reports aired by a section of the media that the CJP’s convoy met an accident while travelling to Balakot.

“Different squads at different places had joined CJP’s convoy while going to Balakot; however CJP showing displeasure over it returned them,” said a statement issued in Islamabad.

CJP blasts ERRA for poor performance