LAHORE, June 26: The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) has reportedly sought permission from the provincial government to associate three senior bureaucrats who had acted as managing directors of the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) with the multi-million scam of development of Murree’s PIA and Ganj Shaheedan parks.
However, a former managing director has requested a probe into preparing a fake PC-I of the PIA park using his name after he left the post.
Three inquiries into the scam have so far been conducted but sources say there exists a great confusion as to who is responsible for the irregularities committed in the development of the parks located adjacent to the Murree residence of the Sharif family.
A four-member committee headed by former prosecution department secretary Muhammad Amlish had traced in July last year massive irregularities in development works, recommending action against a team of officials chosen by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif himself for the purpose.
The inquiry was ordered by the chief minister and its findings were submitted to him, seeking action against a number of officials, including former secretary and managing director of TDCP Amir Ashraf Khwaja who was immediately surrendered to the federal government.
It was expected that the Punjab government would recommend action against Mr Khwaja and another former managing director Mian Wahid, both DMG officers, to the federal government in the light of the probe findings.
But, the sources told Dawn on Sunday the inquiry report was concealed and the ACE was asked to initiate another probe into the matter. Afterwards, yet another inquiry was ordered under Khayam Qaiser of communication and works (C&W) department.
They said the last committee recommended action against around four junior officials of the tourism department, daring not to touch the three bureaucrats who had acted as TDCP managing directors, including Mr Amir Khwaja, Mian Wahid and Saad Sikandar.
However, the sources claimed, one of the accused said that all those at the helm of affairs were involved in the irregularities.
They said upon this statement, the ACE sought permission from the provincial government to engage the three bureaucrats for the inquiry.
In the meantime, the chief minister constituted a committee under the Punjab additional chief secretary to look into the matter. The committee held its meeting on Saturday during which Mian Wahid demanded that a probe should first be conducted as to who had produced a fake PC-I of the development of the PIA park under his counterfeit signatures.
Sources said the PC-I did not exist in the record of the tourism department and apparently it looked that its copy was made a part of the inquiries after Mian Wahid left the post.
They said the record indicated that Mian Wahid and Khawaja Amir were removed on the charges of committing irregularities in the execution of the projects. But the projects were later carried out without following rules and procedures, making overpayments amounting to millions of rupees.
“Everyone involved in the scam says that he has done so to speedily finish the job under directions from the chief minister. And this claim requires a decision on who is actually responsible,” the sources said.
The committee formed under Mr Amlish had declared that development of the parks involving several millions of rupees was entrusted to the TDCP despite the fact that it did not have the capacity or ability to do the job.
The development of the park at a 30-kanal piece of land owned by PIA was handed over to Punjab many years ago by PML-N's Khaqan Abbasi as chairman of the airlines. The development work was started without getting an approval of a PC-I (official blueprint of every public sector project) despite a direction by the finance department.
The work on the project (reportedly costing Rs50 million) was started without signing a contract with the executing contractor which, the sources said, was another violation of the government rules. There were no specifications and even the contractor was released payments in advance. (Payments are made as the project advances so as to make the contractor ensure quality and meet the deadline).
The work on the project was started when Mr Wahid was serving as TDCP managing director. At that time Mr Amir Ashraf Khawaja was serving as tourism secretary and after the departure of Mr Wahid he also took over as managing director, directly assuming charge of the development.
The major fault in the Bagh-i-Saheedan project was stated to be the absence of specifications which meant that the contractor was given a free hand to do whatever he wanted to without fear of accountability.