PESHAWAR, Feb 15: Luck seems to be on the side of the officials responsible for incomplete and substandard work on Balambat Irrigation Scheme in Lower Dir district as the government is too lazy to take action against them even after the completion of an inquiry into it by a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly committee last year.
Speaker Kiramatullah Khan Chagharmatti had constituted a four-member committee to look into the faulty scheme when it was disclosed that the project valuing Rs750 million had been left unfinished.
Provincial finance minister Humayun Khan and late senior minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour had admitted on the floor of the house during budget session in July 2012 that the project had been abandoned before completion.
The irrigation department, the prime executing agency, had given clean chit about the completion of the project before Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti showed up at the inauguration ceremony.
The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government had launched work in 2004 on the Balambat Irrigation Scheme considered backbone of agriculture in the district. The 83-kilometer long irrigation channel will irrigate around 11,000 acres land in the district.
MPA Mufti Kifayatullah, who exposed the scam in the assembly, said the 16-kilometre portion of the channel was left incomplete when it was commissioned. He also said construction work was substandard and that water did not reach the tail end.
“Around Rs300 million had been embezzled,” he told Dawn and alleged the government was using delaying tactics to save skin of the officials involved in the project. He said if the government did not take action then he would approach National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct inquiry into it.
The committee comprising MPAs Saqibullah Khan Chamkani, Mufti Kifayatullah, Zamin Khan and Sher Shah Khan inspected the site.
Chairman of the committee Saqib Chamkani, in his letter written to the speaker on Dec 10, 2012, said it was observed that at least 16 per cent work (the last portion of the channel) was not completed.
The letter said many flaws in the planning, construction and execution stage were observed and the irrigation department had sought one and a half months time from the committee to complete the remaining work and remove defects from the already completed phases. He said time period had also lapsed.
The committee recommended that the department not only complete the scheme but also remove design and construction flaws to make the channel feasible for irrigation.
The letter said findings of the committee should be furnished to the assembly as soon as possible. However the committee’s findings have yet to get light of the day and the issue has been swept under the carpet.
However, MPAs and residents said the channel was still incomplete and faults had not been removed. But a senior engineer of the irrigation department in Timergara when approached claimed that the work had been finished according to the directives of the committee. He blamed a local MPA for generating controversy about the scheme.
Mr Chamkani, who had reservations on the formation and term of reference of the committee, informed the speaker he could not continue to work. He said according to rules of business of the assembly, the House committee had to submit its report or findings on any issue to the speaker not to any administrative secretary.
“This is illogical to submit report to a person or department against whom inquiry is conducted,” he said, adding that he was supposed to present the committee report to the speaker. Mufti Kifayatullah also expressed reservations over the committee and said MPAs were not answerable to the executive.
A member of the committee said the irrigation department had launched work on this huge scheme without appointment of project director.
“Nobody is taking and accepting responsibility. This is very awkward to execute project without project director,” he said.
The member said water could not reach tail end due to leakage and poor designing.