Thursday, August 26
Corrupt officers destroyed Muzaffargarh
The provincial Irrigation and Power Department has found out an embezzlement of Rs 26.44million in the purchase of the flood fighting material, while another enquiry for bigger magnitude of Rs 140m corruption is in progress in one sub-division of worst flood-hit district Muzaffargarh.
After an enquiry, four senior officers of the Irrigation Department have been suspended, while for Grade-19 officer, a summary has been forwarded to the Chief Minister for further action.
As per sources, in July this year – far prior to the flood havoc – upon receiving a complaint of corruption in the purchase of the flood fighting material for Muzaffargarh Canal Division, Secretary Irrigation Rab Nawaz constituted an enquiry committee comprising Director Monitoring Aamir Raza and Director Procurement Jamil Ahmed.
The committee found out that the XEN Office Muzaffargarh had made payments of Rs 29.244m for buying flood fighting material, but on ground, actually the material was found to be of worth Rs 2.805m. However, after the team reached there on July 26, the ‘concerned officers’, ordered another purchase of material worth Rs 5.371m, which was ‘dutifully placed’ for strengthening spurs.
The enquiry team wrote in the report that an embezzlement of Rs 26.44m had been made from the last week of July till August 1. “This was done in just one head of flood fighting material, and if they would have spent half of the amount of the allocated amount, then certainly the district would have been saved from such a devastation caused by flood waters,” commented an officer concerned.
Upon receiving the report, Secretary Irrigation Department suspended four senior officers of the Department, which included SE Abbas Cheema, XEN Tariq Anwar and two SDOs Ather and Shahzad.
In another case of corruption of even bigger amount – which is also of the same sub-division Muzaffargarh – so far embezzlement of Rs 11m has been identified, while the enquiry is being conducted into another corruption of Rs 140m. The source further confided that as per Form 27 of the Work Charge Establishment, a payment of Rs 33.575m was made, which also included Rs 25.6m for 19 small and big flood works in the sub-division, which also includes Khanwah Flood Bund in Jatoi sub-division, where one such work costs Rs 10m.
In this regard, the enquiry team has so far found out that proper registration of the tenders was not carried out, and there was no record available for the money spent on buying flood fighting material.
However, the Department has sent a summary to the CM for further action against SE Abbas Cheema – which is mandatory since it in Grade-19 – while the rest would be also dealt as per law.
May be a belated wake-up call for the Punjab government, now the Irrigation Department has made it mandatory that after approval from the Secretary of the Department, any flood work would be carried out.
Each year, the flood works are carried out, and officers have been doing the routine job, which could only be seen in papers only. “It is everywhere in all the sub-divisions of the province, and one can see the results on the ground, and what the flood has done with the masses. The government is pretty late in pinpointing just one sub-division, and the rest of the divisions await action,” averred the source.