The parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has noted that the railways land at Wazir Mansion Station, Karachi has been leased against the rules and referred the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for investigation.
The PAC meeting, held with Rana Tanveer Ahmed in the chair, also expressed frustration over non-utilisation of full funds by the railways while reviewing the audit objections of the Ministry of Railways for the year 2018-19.
“Of the budget of Rs39.41 billion, Rs23.25 billion was spent,” audit officials said. “The budget of Rs7.15 billion was not utilised in the year 2018-19.”
The committee members expressed concern over missing out on grants to the railways ministry.
Committee member Senator Sherry Rehman asked, “Why there was a cut in the railways budget?”
She said, “There have been 31 accidents in three years. If this had happened in any other country, criminal investigations would have taken place.”
She accused the railway officials of not releasing funds at the district level. “Funds are running out.
Railway tracks are not even being repaired. They say if the ML-1 project comes, everything will be fine.”
Committee Chairman Ahmed said that if the money was missing, it was in excess. “It has also been seen that on the one hand, money is being wasted and on the other, supplementary grants are being sought.”
Ahmed asked, “How many people were killed in accidents in one year? Why the investigation of this accident has not yet been completed?”
The chairman directed that the inquiry should be completed as soon as possible otherwise “we will give orders”.
The railways secretary apprised the committee that only one major accident has taken place and an inquiry is under way.
On the issue of funds lapse, he replied that the actual amount not spent is Rs806.4 million. He said that the Ministry of Planning had reduced the grant.
The PAC Chairman, while dealing with the para, sought clarification from the Ministry of Planning.
On the issue of occupation of 93 acres of railways land in Punjab, the audit officials said that due to non-payment to the railways department, a loss of Rs5.53 billion was incurred.
Private people encroached on the railways land. Railways lands were seized and slums were established. Later, the Punjab government gave property rights to the residents of 13 slums.
The provincial government has valued 93 acres of land at only Rs2.5 million.
Committee member Noor Alam Khan said that there are slums on railways lands everywhere and occupation mafia is behind them.
“Occupancy of government land should not be allowed at all. It’s such an expensive land, and is no less than one crore marla.”
The PAC chairman said that this is a matter of the poor and it should not be called occupation mafia.
The chairman decided to convene a separate meeting of the railways committee.
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