KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Thursday the provincial advocate-general to submit complete record of funds released by the provincial government for development projects launched in Larkana district, including those successfully executed, in the last eight years.
Headed by SHC chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah, the two-judge bench sought such details by February 21. The bench was hearing a petition filed by a Larkana resident, Bashir Ahmed, seeking inquiry into the alleged misappropriation of development funds for a city considered a stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
The petitioner had named PPP women's wing chief MNA Faryal Talpur, who is also a sister of PPP co-chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari, former town Nazim Dr Shafqat Hussain Soomro, former law minister Ayaz Soomro, the then district coordination officer, deputy commissioner, project director of the Larkana development project and others as respondents.
Filing a reply on behalf of the Sindh government, provincial law officer Zamir Ghumro informed that the provincial government had earmarked Rs32 billion for the development schemes or projects in Larkana. Ghumro said the government had admitted that a sum of Rs23 billion was released and spent on different schemes or projects.
The judges observed that this whole amount still does not make up Rs90 billion and wanted to know which projects the government had spent the money.
They directed the AG to submit complete details reflecting Rs90 billion funds had been utilised on development projects in Larkana in the last eight years. Apart from this, the court also sought details of any other development work carried out outside the Larkana development package.
Excluding Faryal Talpur
During the proceedings, a request was made to the court to exclude the name of Faryal Talpur, a sister of the former president Asif Ali Zardari and elected PPP MNA from Larkana, from the list of the respondents in the case.
The petitioner had falsely named her as respondent in the case, which was harming her political reputation, argued Talpur's lawyer. However, the bench members observed everything will get clear once the details of the funds utilisation and projects' execution were submitted in court.
After the 2008 elections, Rs12 billion had been allocated for the development and beautification of Larkana city besides other development schemes, said petitioner Ahmed. He alleged that roads and other development works were carried out without any proper planning while substandard material was used.
The petitioner had pointed out that most of the reconstructed roads were destroyed in the rains while several others had developed cracks. None of the roads were improved or widened, he added.
Ahmed maintained that the people of Larkana were facing hardships in the form of traffic jams, dusty and polluted air, stagnant sewage water on roads and frequent accidents.
He argued that internal drains and roads had been made with substandard material and a major portion of the grant had been usurped.
He had pleaded the court order the constitution of a committee based on honest town planners and other technical persons to probe into the misappropriation, ill-planning and embezzlement of public money of Larkana development project.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2017.