Tarbela 4th Extension project: TI-P urges ministry to take action against Wapda chief

Business Recorder

ISLAMABAD: Transparency International- Pakistan (TI-P) has asked Ministry of Water Resources to take an action against Chairman Wapda, Lt. General Muzammil Hussain (retired) for allegedly inflicting billions of rupees financial loss in Tarbela 4th Extension project.

TI-P has written a letter to Secretary Ministry of Water Resources, Dr. Shahzad Khan Bangash, copies of which have been sent to Secretary to PM, Azam Khan, Chairman NAB, Auditor General Pakistan (AGP) and Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The letter notes that PC-1 of Tarbela 4th extension Hydropower Project was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) at a total cost of Rs 83.6 billion on August 16, 2012 with completion date of August 16, 2018, enhancing generation of 1410 MW project through installation of three turbines of 470 MW capacity each. The first revision of PC-1 was approved by ECNEC at a total cost of Rs 122.97 billion on November 27, 2019 with completion date of December 2022. The “prematurely” inaugurated Tarbela 4th extension hydropower project on March 10, 2018 resulted in “massive damage and financial loss”.

A high-level Investigation Committee (IC) was constituted under Prime Minister’s directives to inquire into the matter of “premature” inauguration on September 5, 2018, which completed its findings on February 22, 2019.

Key findings and conclusion and recommendations to the Prime Minister of IC report are as follow; (i) a decision on “premature” inauguration was taken at the level of Chairman Wapda “without consultation” of Member (Power), Advisor on project, Chief Engineer (O&M) and Project Officer; (ii) the decision of Chairman Wapda resulted in a “loss of $ 753.7 million”; and (iii) investigation report asked Ministry for Water Resources for a detailed performance audit by AGP within 60 days i.e. by May 22, 2019 and forensic audit by third party of international repute with no interest in Wapda to ascertain losses and enabling NAB and FIA to investigate the matter to fix responsibility and initiate “criminal” proceedings.

After issuance of investigation report of Tarbela 4th Extension, CDWP and ECNEC also referred the project to AGP for a detailed performance audit while approving first revision of PC-1 on November 27, 2019.

TI-P claims that it is clear from the facts that the Chairman Wapda took the “unfortunate” decision regarding “premature” inauguration of Tarbela 4th Extension to “ensure” his continuity in office by trying to exhibit over-performance.

It is also “evident” that after attaining age of 65 years on July 16, 2020, the Chairman had become ineligible to hold a public office.

The Auditor General of Pakistan has also declared the appointment of incumbent Chairman Wapda as “totally illegal”, as in a test check audit of the accounts record of the Ministry of Water Resources, AGP observed that Chairman Wapda was appointed by the Establishment Division in “violation” of its own laws.

TI-P has noted that Ministry of Water Resources has been delaying the action on the decisions taken by CDWP and ECNEC since last 1-1/2 years.

According to the letter signed by Justice Nasira Iqbal (retired), Vice Chair TI-P, after examining the allegation of the complainant, also published in newspapers, and not denied by Ministry of Water Resources, Wapda and AGP, prime facie the allegation of “loss of Rs 100 billion” to the national exchequer seems to be correct. TI-P has requested Secretary Ministry of Water Resources to examine the allegation and if correct, provide a copy of the AGP forensic and audit report, a report on efforts to recover the losses caused and measures taken on accountability of those who caused these losses, as well as action taken on the continuation of services of Chairman Wapda after attaining the age of 65.

When contacted a senior official of Ministry of Water Resources said that a meeting has been convened in the Ministry on Monday (today) to discuss the issue referred in the TI-P letter. Chairman Wapda will also attend the meeting so that a proper answer may be prepared in response to the TI-P letter.

He contended that TI-P will be asked to also bring the complainant and in case the accusations are unfounded, action must be taken against the complainant.

“No one will become involved in national level projects if harassment is done in this way,” he said badding that “there is no possibility of corruption in projects which are financed by the World Bank”.

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