A National Assembly panel on Wednesday decided to probe into an alleged embezzlement in funds to the tune of Rs 456 million released for reclamation and leveling of agricultural land in merged districts of erstwhile FATA by agriculture department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), which met with MNA Sajid Khan in chair, constituted a sub-committee in convenership of MNA Sajid Hussain Turi to thoroughly investigate the matter.
The committee was also briefed by the secretary agriculture department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the funds released for reclamation and leveling of land in merged districts of erstwhile FATA and the recruitments made during the last five years in agriculture department of merged districts and future agriculture and livestock development programs in merged districts in detail.
Committee member Sajid Hussain Turi said that there are reports of massive corruption in leveling of land and forestation campaign on the said piece of land.
The committee was informed by the agriculture department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that an amount of Rs 146.16 million was released for reclamation of a total of 3,045 acre of land during the year 2017-18 while another amount of Rs 309.88 million was released during 2018-19 for reclamation of a total of 6,456 acres of land.
However, the committee did not agree to the information provided in the brief and working papers by the agriculture department and decided to constitute a four-member sub-committee to visit the erstwhile FATA and check the reclamation and leveling of land there on ground.
The sub-committee would comprise Sajid Hussain Turi as its convener while Mohammad Iqbal Khan, Mohamamd Jamal Ud Din and Gul Zafar Khan as its member.
The committee would probe into the alleged corruption in releasing of funds in the name of reclamation and leveling of land in merged districts of erstwhile FATA and to recommend steps to ensure transparency and curb corrupt practices in awarding contract of development schemes.
The Ministry of SAFRON and agriculture department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will facilitate and assist the sub-committee in finalizing its report within 15 days.
The committee member from South Waziristan Ali Wazir alleged that some local officials and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provincial leader from the area were involved in getting the kickbacks in development projects.
PTI member of the committee Shahid Ahmad rejected the allegations, saying that the allegations cannot be levelled without providing solid proofs as well as in the absence of the accused from the committee meeting.
The committee also discussed the issue of doubling of reserved seats for FATA in education and health institutions throughout the country as a decision was made by the federal cabinet in its meeting held on March 2, 2017 under which quota of FATA students in education and health institutions in other provinces was decided to be doubled and retained for 10 years after integration with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The members of the committee expressed their grave concern on non-compliance of cabinet decision regarding doubling of FATA reserved seats in the medical/dental colleges throughout the country after laps of two-and-a-half-year. The committee observed that it was injustice with the students of merged tribal districts.
The committee was also informed by the registrar Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) that at present the PMDC Council is incomplete due to which an Advisory Committee of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) has been constituted to advise the ministry on the affairs of PMDC till the completion of Council.
He further informed that the issue of doubling of reserved seats for FATA students and the allocation of medical and dental seats for the students of Balochistan and FATA under the project for opportunities of higher education by the HEC would be discussed in the upcoming meeting of the Advisory Committee scheduled to be held on 11th October, and the committee would be informed accordingly.
Thereafter the committee directed the secretary SAFRON to coordinate and hold meeting with the secretaries of health departments of all the provinces to implement the decision of the federal cabinet regarding doubling of reserved seats for FATA students at the earliest in order to save the future of FATA students.
The meeting was attended by MNAs Saleh Mohammad, Sajid Hussain Turi, Shahid Ahmad, Gul Dad Khan, Gul Zafar Khan, Mohammad Iqbal Khan, Abdul Shakoor Shad, Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan, Mohammad Afzal Khokhar, Mohammad Jamal-ud-Din and Ali Wazir, and officers of the SAFRON ministry and its attached departments.