LAHORE: The Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on Tuesday registered a first information report (FIR) against former director general (mines and minerals) Zafar Javed and four other officials for illegally digging out gold from the River Indus.

According to the FIR, former mines and minerals DG Zafar Javed, deputy director Rashid Lateef, managers Rafiullah Khan, Rizwan Saqib Bajwa, geologist Usman Ali and contractor Mukhtar Ahmad are allegedly involved in illegally digging out gold from the Indus, misuse of powers and causing loss to the national exchequer.

ACE Director General Gohar Nafees received complaints that the Punjab mines and minerals officials had illegally created a new zone for gravel and sand on the Indus in violation of rules.

The ACE said Mr Nafees directed the Rawalpindi regional director to probe the matter. During investigation, it said the officials of the mineral department gave permission to create a new zone for gravel and sand on such a place where the gold particles are found.

“The contractor company by joining hands with functionaries of mines and mineral department obtained contract of the newly created zone apparently for extraction of sand and gravel but in violation of rules and regulations,” it said and added the firm subsequently started extraction of placer gold at the site and caused a loss worth billions of rupees to the exchequer.

The ACE said the mine and mineral department officials awarded contract to Haihong Super Pak (Pvt) Ltd for Rs100 million whereas the reserve price of the same was Rs300m.

It said the ACE DG had constituted a team under the supervision of the deputy director (technical) to further investigate the matter.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2019