Trial begins in Nandipur project reference

Published: September 6, 2018
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The water and power ministry sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to do so.

PHOTO:FILE

The water and power ministry sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to do so. PHOTO:FILE

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court initiated the trial in the reference on Nandipur Power Project on Wednesday after summoning seven key political figures and officials for allegedly causing inordinate delays.

Summons were served on former law minister Babar Awan, former water and power minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former secretaries of the ministry of law Muhammad Masood Chishti and Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani, former research consultant of the law ministry Shamila Mahmood, former senior joint secretary ministry of law Dr Riaz Mahmood and former secretary ministry of water and power Shahid Rafi.

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The court directed all accused to appear on September 18 and face charges levelled against them in the NAB’s reference in this regard.

On Tuesday, NAB Rawalpindi filed a reference against seven politicians and officials.

In the reference, NAB contended that the project had faced a delay of two years, one month and 15 days, resulting in a loss of Rs27.3billion to the national exchequer.

The project, located in Gujranwala district, could not be completed and operated on time because the accused failed to issue their legal opinions, NAB officials contended.

The Supreme Court, they stated, had decided the Constitutional Petition No 67 of 2011 over delays in the Nandipur project and formed a commission, comprising Justice (retd) Rehmat Hussain Jafri, to determine reasons for the delay.

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The commission submitted its report on April 9, 2012.

According to the report, these officials and officers of the ministry of law and justice were mainly responsible for the delays. Subsequently, the apex court referred the matter to NAB.

The Nandipur Power Project had been approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on December 27, 2007 at a cost of $329 million.

After approval, the contract was signed on January 28, 2008, between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited (NPGCL) and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation (DEC), China and two consortiums – COFACE for 68.967 million euros and SINOSURE for $150.151 million – were set up for financing the project.

The water and power ministry sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to do so.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Water and Power also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve these issue, and the matter remained pending.

According to details shared by NAB, after Awan was replaced as the law minister, the legal opinion was issued on November 2011 – after more than two years.

This inordinate and malafide delay caused a huge losses of Rs27 billion to the national exchequer.

During the course of investigation, it was established that the accused committed the offense(s) of corruption and corrupt practice, as defined in u/s 9 (a) (vi) and (xii) read with Sr.5 of Schedule Offences of NAO, 1999.

A reference was filed by NAB Rawalpindi’s Investigation Officer Asma Chaudhry before the Islamabad Accountability Court judge. Awan, who was the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs, resigned from his post after the reference was filed against him and six other on Tuesday.

The hearing would resume on September 18.

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