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SAHIWAL: The Punjab government has retained the suspension of District Coordination Officer Asif Iqbal after the report of a three-member inquiry committee into the swinging boat accident in Kanan Park on the second day of Eidul Fitr.

Report blamed the district government for negligence in allowing installation of swings and other recreational items in the park on Eid without issuing no-objection certificates (NOCs) to the contractors.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif during his surprise visit to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital on Friday had suspended the DCO. He had also formed a three-member probe committee which came to know that the DCO had given verbal permission to the contractors to install swings and no NOCs were issued.

Govt retains Sahiwal DCO’s suspension from service

There were reports that DCO Asif Iqbal’s suspension order was cancelled later on the intervention of the top bureaucracy and local leadership of the PML-N. He remained functional since the CM’s visit and on Sunday, he distributed cheques among the injured children along with Commissioner Babar Hayat.

The three-member inquiry committee report blamed the district government for negligence and in the light of this report, the DCO’s suspension from service was retained. The Punjab government’s official handout also announced suspension of the Sahiwal DCO. However, while talking to Dawn, the commissioner said that he had not received any official order in this regard yet.

On the other hand, the CM, addressing a meeting through a video link from Lahore, again blamed the district government for showing negligence in the installation of swings.

He imposed a ban on the installation of swings and other recreational items for children in ​all ​public parks​ of the province​. He asked the chief secretary and health secretary to make a comprehensive report and define protocol and regulations for the installation of swings in the parks. Until the protocol is defined no swing can be installed in Punjab, he said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Babar Hayat and DCO Asif Iqbal distributed cheques worth Rs4.2 million among 34 children who were injured in the swinging boat accident.

Twenty six of the injured children received Rs100,000 each while eight critically injured got Rs200,000 each. The cheques were distributed at the DHQ hospital as well as homes of children in different parts of the city.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2016