LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has initiated an inquiry against former chairman of National Highway Authority (NHA) Hadayatullah Niazi, several of his colleagues, as well as the contractors involved in depriving the national exchequer of Rs220 million by inflating the prices of saplings planted along the Motorway.
NAB Punjab has opened the inquiry on the directive of the Lahore High Court (LHC) after recording the petitioner’s statement and has sought the relevant record from the NHA.
Muhammad Zafar Zakeer Goraya has alleged that Niazi, and his colleagues procured each sapling for prices ranging from Rs137 to Rs158 and Rs168 while its market price was Rs2. The contractors, who were in league with the officials, were selected despite strong opposition by Daewoo, the firm which had constructed the Motorway.
In order to earn a hefty commission from the deal, the contract was awarded to Atif Altaf and Anjum Pervez of M/s Easer Company, Sultan Ali Barq of M/s Friend of Earth and Dr Ali Muhammad of M/s Estate Company.
The other officials whose names have been included in the petition are General Manager NHA, Khalid Sami Khilji, Member Operations, Altaf Siddiqui, Deputy Director Murtaza Ali Qandhari, Deputy Member Motorway, Sabir Hussain, Karamat Chaudhry.
Goraya had earlier submitted an application to DG FIA regarding the misappropriation but no action was taken. He then filed a writ petition in the LHC and requested that a criminal case be registered against the accused.
The court disposed of the writ petition after the FIA deputed inquiry officer Sheikh Riazuddin to investigate the matter. When the FIA failed to take any action against the accused, the petitioner filed a contempt petition in the LHC for registering the case.
Deputy Director Legal stated that an inquiry has confirmed the Rs220 million misappropriation and that the case has been referred to NAB.
The LHC has directed NAB to conclude the inquiry within three months and include the petitioner in the investigation. If a cognizable offence has been committed, NAB will register a criminal case against the accused.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2011.
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