ISLAMABAD - Fraud and irregularities involving Rs two billion were committed during the previous governments of PPP and PML-N in the land acquisition process of the National Highway Authority (NHA), reveals a special audit report of the Directorate General Audit Works.

According to the report, the land is acquired across the country by NHA to expand its road network. The Directorate General Audit Works had conducted a special audit in which the land acquisition related activities of NHA from July 2010 to March 2017 were reviewed.

During this period, the roads authority acquired 130,066 kanals of land out of which 91467 kanals were mutated in the name of NHA. Funds amounting Rs.34826 million were released for the said process, however, Rs.23581 million were distributed among the land affectees. 

The said special audit raised a total of 25 objections including a para for fraud and misappropriation, 15 paras for irregularities, 4 for poor performance and 5 for internal weaknesses.   

The audit objections indicating fraud and misappropriation include the payment of Rs.77.82 million on forged documents during the land accusation process for the construction of dual carriageway from Sehwan to Ratodero in Sindh.

Fraud and misappropriation include payment of Rs77.82m on forged documents

The report pointed out that the NHA sustained a loss of Rs.1155.49 million due to overpayment against the agricultural land acquired to construct Multan-Sukhar (M-5) Motorway and blamed the road authority’s officers for poor liaison with land acquisition officer in respective districts.

It was also pointed out in the report that the roads authority had acquired access land for the Right of the Way (ROW) of the same project and caused a loss of Rs.263 million to the national exchequer. The said audit objection pointed out that a total of 462 acres and 13 Ghuntas land was required in district Ghotki but land measuring 557 acres and 13 Ghuntas was acquired by the NHA.

According to another audit objection, Rs.65 million were paid to land owners without announcement of the award in Islamabad-Muzaffarabad Dual Carriageway.

Meanwhile, audit report points out overpayment of Rs.15.64 million due to wrong assessment of fruit trees falling in the ROW of different projects at Haripur, Toba Take Singh and Feroz Wala.

The audit further pointed out that the NHA records show that agriculture land measuring 82,433 kanals and 16 marlas in various districts as acquired but it has been failed to get mutated the land measuring 61.320 kanals and 10 marlas out of the total acquired land that caused a loss of over 9 billion to the national exchequer.

The audit on the basis of its findings directed NHA to conduct separate inquiries to fix the responsibilities for misappropriation of land compensation and initiate action against person responsible of negligence.

When General Manager EALS Talat Mahmood Gondal was contacted, he was unavailable for comments on the special audit report. However, another senior officer of the authority on the condition of anonymity said that there was a huge corruption and malpractices in the whole process of land acquisition in NHA and most of the audit objections are justified in nature. He, however, informed that in some of the cases the loss indicated by the audit report is highly exaggerated in terms of figures.