SC directs NAB to open investigation against Dr Mubarakmand over Thar coal project

Published December 6, 2018
Nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand is set to face a NAB probe. — File
Nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand is set to face a NAB probe. — File

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take action against nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand and others responsible for losses caused to the national exchequer in Thar coal gasification project.

A three-member bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, referred the project to the corruption watchdog, with instructions to investigate the individuals in light of the final audit report of the project, which was presented by the Auditor General of Pakistan in court today.

The SC on October 18 had ordered a forensic audit of the Thar coal project, directing the NAB to probe the matter and submit a report within 15 days.

The apex court had also sought a response from the Sindh government on the implementation of a report’s recommendations to avert environmental threats from the project.

The court today deemed that the Thar coal project was not "implementable" and had caused a heavy financial loss to the country.

The top judge remarked that Dr Mubarakmand had claimed "Pakistan would get free electricity" but "over Rs4 billion had been wasted" instead.

"Samar Mubarakmand is responsible," Justice Nisar said. "He had made big claims but now he will have 20 excuses. Who will be held accountable for the billions of rupees that were spent?.

Dr Mubarakmand, in his defence, said that "Rs1bn was spent on feasibility", adding that the project was approved after the government had "seen for itself that my project was operating".

The Deputy Attorney General, meanwhile, told the court that until now Rs4.69bn have been spent on the Thar coal project but electricity was yet to be generated.

"It was the Sindh government's responsibility to run this project," the DAG reminded the SC bench.

The court instructed the federal government to furnish its report on the project within six weeks before adjourning the case till an unspecified date.

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