Probe into Nandipur scam is at advanced stage, SC told

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) assured the Supreme Court on Saturday that an inquiry into delay in construction of 525MW combined cycle power plant at Nandipur (Gujranwala) was at an advanced stage and relevant record was being minutely scrutinised to conclude the probe.

At the last hearing on Aug 9, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had expressed dismay over delay in filing a reference pertaining to allegations of corruption in the construction of the Nandipur project, and ordered NAB to provide a list of inquiries that had remained dormant during the period when Qamaruzzamn Chaudhry was holding the office of chairman of the bureau.

The case was initiated when the Supreme Court restored the 2011 petition of former minister for defence Khawaja Asif on alleged corruption in the Nandipur project. The court had also issued notices to Wapda and the Pakistan Electric Power Company.

NAB says it has seized relevant record from three ministries and examination of witnesses and accused is under way

In a fresh report, NAB stated that a ground check had been conducted by combined investigation teams of NAB into Nandipur power plant scam and that relevant records had been taken into possession from the ministries of law, water and power and finance, including invoices, vouchers and instruments of payments made to the contractors.

The examination of witnesses and accused persons was also under process, the bureau said.

During the course of investigation, NAB conceded, it came to record that the officers and officials of the law ministry had failed to exercise their lawful authorities by not issuing legal opinion, causing loss to national exchequer and, hence, they had committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices under Section 9(a)(v) and (xii) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

Earlier the Supreme Court had appointed a one-man commission of former justice Rehmat Hussain Jafri on the Nandipur project in 2013 also on Khawaja Asif’s petition.

In its report, the commission concluded that national exchequer had suffered a colossal loss of Rs113 billion due to negligence of the law ministry causing delay in giving required approval and completing documents for execution of 950-megawatt power generation projects of Nandipur and Chichon-Ki-Malian.

In its 94-page report, the commission ruled that the negligence on part of executive authorities of the law ministry had caused delay in completion of the projects.

An approximate loss of more than Rs1l3bn was caused to national exchequer, the report stated.

It said that though excruciatingly prolonged electricity outages continued to choke industrial and economic growth, causing losses of billions and making the life of common man unbearable, the Nandipur and Chichon-Ki-Malian projects could not take off due to criminal negligence of the law ministry on frivolous technical grounds.

The ministry did not clear the issuance of sovereign guarantee of the finance ministry to the contractor, resulting in termination of work, the report said.

Later the then law minister Dr Babar Awan told the Supreme Court bench headed by the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that he was being “persecuted by his political opponents” who were carrying out his media trial.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018

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