Corruption under govt patronage
July 13, 2012
News of corruption and embezzlement continues unabated; there is hardly a day when the print and electronic media don’t release news of corruption. Though corruption and embezzlement in government departments is not a new thing, surprisingly it has increased manifold during the tenure of the PPP-led government.
Intriguingly, the government is least bothered about mega corruption scandals right under its nose. Maybe it is due to the fact that the top notch PPP leadership is itself involved in such cases. The tales of corruption of president have died out but former premier and his sons are still under scrutiny. The eldest son was allegedly involved in the Hajj scam while his youngest son is being associated with ephedrine case.
In another news of corruption, after the removal of DG Parks for his involvement in corruption worth millions now a consultant in KMC has also been sacked and a complete disassociation has been expressed. The question is why such revelations are made when million of rupees are embezzled? The answer is simple: not an individual but an entire gang of people is involved and the cat jumps out of the bag only when someone doesn’t get their due share in the loot.
According to details available with “Pulse” during his trip to Karachi the MPAs complained to President Zardari about Rs 500 million embezzlement in Benazir Bhutto Boat Basin Park and on his directives a team of anti-corruption officials raided the office of DG Parks of the defunct City District Government Karachi (CDGK) three months back. The DG was ordered to hand over the record of construction of 12 parks in various areas of the city but reportedly he refused to do the same.
The defunct CDGK started work on the construction of a park in 2008. Initially, the estimated cost of the park, scattered over 150 acres, was projected to be at least Rs870 million. However, the amount was revised by the Parks Department and the final cost was increased to Rs 1.5 billion, sources said. Interestingly, there was another huge park in the same locality — the Boat Basin Park.
However, the city administration chalked out a plan to convert it into Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park for which the federal government, under the special directives of President Asif Ali Zardari, released funds without any hindrance, sources informed. The previous park, it was learnt, had all the facilities, including a small jetty for boating, a board walk, a jogging track, a stone path, stone canopies and food courts. Sources said the park only needed renovation and rehabilitation.
After the park was made operational, the Anti-Corruption Establishment received a number of complaints about the use of substandard material in the construction of park and massive corruption.
Finally, a complaint was lodged by the Anti-Corruption Establishment this year to investigate the alleged corruption. In February this year, anti-corruption officials, headed by Director Javed Baloch, raided the office of the DG Parks but the team failed to get the relevant record of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park and 11 other parks.
In this connection, investigation officer (IO) Sajjad Ali told Pulse that preliminary investigation unearthed a corruption of more than Rs500 million in the park's construction. The expenditure of such a huge sum of money created doubts in the presence of a park, which contained all necessary facilities, he added. He said there was evidence of dumping of sand costing more than Rs 100 million in the park, purchase of a Neem tree at Rs 60,000 against the actual rate of between Rs500 and R800. Besides, a number of bogus entries were included which are being investigated, he added.
“Yes, the DG Parks is firmly saddled without any legal status. In fact, the contract of Kaimkhani expired in 2010 but he is still running the department. All inquiries and actions will stop soon after a phone call from the Governor’s House,” a senior official of the Local Government Department told Pulse, pleading anonymity.
A report sent by the anti-corruption department to chief secretary reveals that more that Rs200million funding was received from the national exchequer for parks set up in 11 towns during the tenure of former DG. But, practically, these parks don’t exist. The other details of corruption reveal that 1500 people were recruited in the Parks Department but the job of maintenance of parks in Bin Qasim and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park was contracted for Rs140 million annually. The company director, who got the contract for maintenance of parks, turned out to be a retired officer of this department.
Permission has been sought from the chief secretary for the arrest of guilty officers in this scam. DG Parks Liaquat Ali Khan Kaimkhani’s phone was found powered off when this correspondent tried to contact him for comments.
Municipal Commissioner Natanat Ali says the said park was a special project of the federal government and it was a gift from Islamabad to the people of Karachi. He said special services of senior officer Liaquat Ali Khan Kaimkhani had been acquired for the completion of this project and any embezzlement in this project had no link with the KMC. According to sources, action against corrupt officials has been stopped due to pressure of certain ministers.