PESHAWAR: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has detected a loss of over Rs 462 million to the public exchequer in an initial inquiry into PTI’s flagship Billion Tree Tsunami Project.
The NAB regional office has recommended to the headquarters for upgrading the inquiry along with authorization for 4 separate investigations and six inquiries to unearth the mega scam in KP.
It is pertinent that NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal had authorized the inquiry on March 26, 2019, against the Billion Tree Tsunami Project after media reports. An officer told this scribe that they (NAB officials) had checked only 10 to 20 percent of only one region out of three regions. This is the smallest region compared to Hazara and Swat regions. NAB sourcesconfirm that the matter is under scrutiny as per law. Media is requested to avoid speculations in this regard.
The KP government during its first tenure had started the Billion Tree Tsunami Project in 2014 and Rs 14.32 billion were utilized for the project execution by the forest department.
According to the NAB sources, 24 different complaints were received at Peshawar bureau of ghost payments, nepotism and favoritism in selection of nurseries. Overlapping of plantation of the other project was also pointed out by complainants. Some of the complaints were regarding payments made for plants different from the actually purchased ones.
Allegations of ghost labour, misappropriation and embezzlement of daily wages, enclosures failure and payments against ghost plantations were also received.
According to official documents available with Jang, during the initial inquiry based on proceedings conducted so far a loss of Rs 462 million has been detected. NAB reports further disclose that due to the shortfall in the hectare-wise plantation area in Dera Ismail Khan a loss of Rs 80.044 million has been detected.
An embezzlement of plants in farm forestry/ free distribution in KP worth of Rs 359.01 million has been found during the inquiry. Furthermore, embezzlements on account of sowing /dibbling of seeds and salaries paid to nighebans (caretakers) of enclosures in DI Khan amount to Rs 10.62 million.
An embezzlement of Rs 2.5 million was found in 411,000 plants received from other divisions in Bannu. A watch tower was constructed in DI Khan without any PC 1 resulting in irregularities of Rs 10.0 million.
The regional NAB office has recommended the headquarters to convert the ongoing inquiry into proper investigation to probe the case. It further recommended four investigations against the Divisional Forest Officer and others 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 are also recommend 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.
It was further recommend that three inquiries may kindly be approved against all three regional officers and officials of the forest department regarding corruption and corrupt practices in plantation and enclosures of the province.