An increasingly proactive judiciary is in the vanguard of exposing some of the worst of governance, and the Sindh Coal Authority (SCA) appears to be up there with the worst of the worst. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court has disposed of a suo-motu case regarding corruption in the SCA and the diaphanous entity it has recently formed called the Special Initiative Department (SID). The SCA is a virtual ghost, having no functional board and the SID has no designated business, expertise or capacity to undertake assorted projects and schemes supposedly under its purview and through which billions of rupees have seemingly passed.
Per specification the SCA was supposed to ‘explore, develop, process, mine and utilise’ coal in Sindh but instead undertook activities beyond the mandate and without the approval of a non-existent board. If ever there was a recipe for rampant corruption this is it, and the deficits are compounded by the SIT that has no rules of business and is a department in name only. These fake entities, to the unabashed astonishment of the SC, are supposedly implementing and executing projects/schemes worth a staggering Rs105,906,940,000. The SC identified what it described as ‘a small clique’ were in charge of this fortune, that they were not subject to routine checks and balances; and any prospect of the projects being handed over to the regular departments of government for running and maintenance in future has to be at best poor.
Once again the judiciary has lifted the lid on the rot that is at the heart of governance, and we must not assume it is limited to Sindh. Welcome as the exposure by the SC is it remains exposure only and is not prescriptive, it offers no solutions and in truth solutions are going to be hard to come by as what we are seeing is normative rather than aberrant governance, where the polarities of deviancy have been reversed. The SC has called for a report in two months, but even if it receives the report reversing generations of embedded corruption is going to take almost as many generations as it took to create and there are vested interests that will fight tooth and nail to maintain their lucrative positions. Well done Honourable Justices, more of the same please.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2017.
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