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Billions lost but govt remains unmoved: CJ

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Wednesday remarked that a loss of billions of rupees was inflicted on the national exchequer by delaying the completion of the Nandipur and Chichoki Mallian power projects but the government was not budging an inch to address the issue.

A three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh Azmat Saeed, was hearing a petition moved by PML-N legislator Khawja Muhammad Asif.

The bench, in its order, noted that despite its direction, no progress was made and it was prima facie of the opinion that the national exchequer was made to suffer a considerable loss due to such delay.

The bench said that no seriousness had been shown by the government, especially when the country was already facing an energy crisis. The two projects could have been made functional within the stipulated period, the bench added. The Supreme Court directed the secretary Ministry of Water and Power to apprise it on Thursday about the steps they intended to take against the responsible persons causing delay in the completion of Nandipur and Chichoki Mallian power plants.

The court directed the ministry concerned to submit a report entailing the cases it intended to file against the responsible on judicial and criminal sides.

During the course of proceedings, Khawaja Asif claimed that the Nandipur project was being withdrawn while the Chichoki Mallian project had been wound up.

The chief justice inquired from Abbas Mirza, counsel for Genco and Pepco, about the steps that had taken for fixation of criminal liabilities against the responsible people and observed that they had issued notices to former law minister and ex-secretary law. “If they did not appear, it was not the court’s duty to go after them. We will proceed in the case and you know the consequences,” he told the counsel.

Asif said that machinery worth $85 million had rusted at the Karachi Port which caused a loss to national exchequer. He said the total investment in the viable Nandipur project was about $329 million if completed in due course of time but now its cost had jumped to over to $700 million.

To the bench’s query, the counsel for Pepco replied that the projects had to commence from the year 2008 and would have been made functional in 2011.

He said that three turbines had to start working.

The bench sought a report by today and hinted that it could ask the Federal Investigation Agency to proceed in the matter in accordance with law.

While in another case related to submission of fortnightly implementation reports by the National Accountability Bureau on a verdict in the Rental Power Projects, the same bench sought a report by Thursday on the status of the Karkey power plant.

The chief justice questioned additional prosecutor general NAB Akbar Tarrar whether they had entered into a compromise with the Karkey as evident from the media reports. He said Faisal Saleh Hayat, the main petitioner in the case and federal minister for housing, had also written some letter about the deal.

The NAB official said that they would not allow Karkey, a ship-mounted RPP, to leave the shores of pakistan and would deal with it in accordance with the country’s laws. He sought time to submit detailed reports over the steps they had taken in other RPPs’ cases.

He said that they had placed the names of a number of officials on the ECL.

Shahzad Bhatti, the NAB investigation officer, apprised the bench that the competent authorities had approved investigation of five inquiries.

The bench while adjourning the matter to Thursday told the counsels that they would also look into the contempt issue against the chairman NAB and other officials.

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