The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct an investigation into alleged corruption in the Nandipur Power Project.

The project has been a victim of delays since its inception. In 2012, a one-man commission comprising retired Justice Rehmat Hussain Jafri had revealed in a report that due to the delays in the project, the national exchequer had suffered a loss of Rs113 billion.

NAB had taken over the investigation of the case and in May 2017, the bureau had held the law ministry responsible for the scam when Babar Awan — who is now the senior vice president of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — was federal law minister in the previous PPP government.

During today's hearing of the case, the energy secretary told the court that the power project was planned in 2005 to produce 525 megawatts of electricity. Originally, the project's costs were estimated to be Rs22 billion, which eventually increased to Rs58 billion due to the delays, he added.

The chief justice pointed out that the Jafri report had the details of the project and ordered NAB to further investigate the case. He also ordered NAB to investigate the reasons behind the increase in the cost of the project.

"I want to see the fraud done in the Nandipur project," he said.

"Exploitation of labour"

The chief justice also expressed anger at the "exploitation of labour" by the state after a workers' union representative said that the government had not paid the employees working on the Nandipur power project.

He added that the government had promised to appoint 25 per cent of the staff for the project after it was outsourced but had not done so. The energy secretary agreed with the claim but did not offer an explanation about why the promise had not been fulfilled yet.