–Accountability watchdog recommends six more investigations into ruling party’s flagship project
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s flagship Billion Tree Tsunami Project has reportedly caused a loss of over Rs462 million to the public exchequer, according to an initial inquiry conducted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
On March 26, 2019, NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had authorised the inquiry into the Billion Tree Tsunami Project.
According to a media report on Wednesday, the NAB Peshawar office has recommended upgrading the inquiry along with authorisation for separate investigations and six inquiries to unearth the mega scam in KP.
The report claimed that NAB officials had checked only 10 to 20 per cent of only one region out of three regions during which it had detected the loss of Rs462m so far.
In 2014, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had started the Rs14.32 billion tree plantation project.
According to the report, 24 different complaints were received by the Peshawar bureau regarding ghost payments, nepotism and favouritism in selection of nurseries. Overlapping of plantation of the other project was also pointed out by the complainants. Some of the complaints were regarding payments made for plants different from the actually purchased ones, it added.
Allegations of ghost labour, misappropriation and embezzlement of daily wages, enclosures failure and payments against ghost plantations were also received.
A NAB report further disclosed that a loss of Rs80.044m had been detected in Dera Ismail Khan due to a shortfall in the hectare-wise plantation area.
Embezzlement of plants in farm forestry/free distribution in KP worth Rs359.01m has been found during the inquiry. Furthermore, embezzlement on account of sowing/dibbling of seeds and salaries paid to nighebans (caretakers) of enclosures in Dera Ismail Khan amount to Rs10.62m.
Embezzlement of Rs2.5m was found in 411,000 saplings received from other divisions in Bannu. A watchtower was constructed in Dera Ismail Khan without any PC 1 resulting in irregularities of Rs10m.
According to the report, NAB Peshawar has recommended four investigations against the Divisional Forest Officer and other officials regarding misuse of authority, embezzlement, corruption and corrupt practices and execution of BTAP against Divisional Forest Officer of Dera Ismail Khan along with region 1, 2, 3 i.e. Hazara and Swat.
Furthermore, six additional inquiries were also recommended against the officers and officials of the KP forest department and others regarding embezzlement, misappropriation, corruption, and corrupt practices in procurement of seeds, polythene bags, machinery, vehicles and office equipment in forest region 1, 2,3.