Caught out: Tender fraud brings harsh punishment to three officials

Minister housing directed action against officials after an inquiry found them guilty of improprieties in two projects

Azam Khan August 16, 2011


Three top housing ministry officials have been suspended for their alleged involvement in corruption. A fact-finding report prepared on the order of Federal Minister for Housing and Works Faisal Saleh Hayat found them involved in serious misconduct.

Housing and Works Secretary Kamran Lashari suspended Superintendent Engineer (SE) Fadayat Hussain Shah and Public Works Department (PWD) Executive Engineer (XEN) Subash Chandar on corruption charges, while the summary of PWD Chief Engineer (South) Attaul Haq Akhtar has been sent to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for disciplinary action in the light of the report.

The housing ministry spokesperson said that action against the officials were taken adhering to the minister’s zero-tolerance policy on corruption. Action against these officials under Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules 1973 is being initiated.

The preliminary inquiry report revealed that the three officials were involved in financial irregularities while executing electrical work at the Statistical Division building. The inquiry, conducted by two senior officers of National Construction — a subsidiary of the housing ministry — revealed that Attaul Haq Akhtar, in the capacity of SE PWD Islamabad, had awarded two projects worth a total of Rs9.5 million in March this year without advertising the tenders in newspapers.

On the PWD website, the date of opening tenders was March 13, but he opened tenders 10 days earlier on March 3. With the connivance of a private contractor, Akhtar asked then PWD Chief Engineer (North) Gulab Zameer to award the Rs6 million project to the illegally selected bidder.

Zameer not only rejected Akhtar’s recommendation but also ordered an inquiry into the irregularities committed by Akhtar in handling the affair, the fact finding report revealed.

The report says that meanwhile, Zameer was transferred and Akhtar was promoted as Chief Engineer (North). He began misusing his powers and awarded a contract to his ‘favourite’ contractor without advertising it in newspapers in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

“According to PPRA rules, it is mandatory to advertise tenders of projects worth over Rs2 million in newspapers. Attaul Haq Akhtar, Fadayat Hussain Shah and Subash Chandar also embezzled call deposits of Rs600,000 each of two bidders, MZ Awan and Sons and Noor and Sons,” the report added.

The ministry spokesperson also said that minister Hayat has unearthed four major corruption scandals worth billions of rupees so far, punishing the culprits involved in fleecing the national exchequer of millions in less than three months.

In June, the ministry suspended two XENs including PWD Multan XEN Fayyaz Muhammad and Lahore XEN Rana Saleem Akhtar, along with Lahore Chief Engineer Mian Masood Akhtar after finding sufficient evidence against them in a probe into alleged improprieties in the construction of a bridge over Ravi on the Kamalia-Harrapa Road in Mal Fatyana.

A few weeks ago, two senior officers, Superintending Engineer Kifayatullah and XEN Faiz Ahmad Faiz, were suspended by the housing ministry on charges of irregularities committed in the construction of new office blocks in the Pak Secretariat.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.

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