LAHORE: An eight-member inquiry team of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) probing the Chashma-Bannu transmission line’s tower collapse is being denied access to the record allegedly by those protecting the officers said to be involved in the corruption that led to the incident.
Although the team, constituted by the company’s top management around two months ago, was supposed to complete the inquiry by Aug 20, it was unable to do so owing to the non-provision of record and resistance from various officers, Dawn has learnt.
“A mafia has been ruling the country’s premier power transmission and despatch agency (NTDC) for the last three years. The mafia has become very powerful, as it is not only protecting the corrupt officials, but also interfering in day-to-day affairs of the company. That is why this important inquiry is yet to be completed even after almost two months of the deadline,” an official source deplored while talking to Dawn on Saturday.
“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is also conducting an inquiry into the re-routing of the line separately,” he added.
Elements responsible for Chashma-Bannu transmission tower collapse said to be shielded
According to an office order issued on Aug 2 by then human resource general manager (GM) Farid Iqbal, a team comprising Muhammad Sakhawat (GM power), Shakir Hafeez (GM transmission), Ghulam Nabi Chaudhry (chief law officer), Anwar Ahmad Khan (civil works chief engineer), Anees Ahmad (transmission line design chief engineer), Kamran Yasin (deputy manager) and Amjad Islam (HR deputy manager) was constituted to probe the collapse of 220kV towers of the transmission line.
Under the terms of reference, the inquiry committee is to determine the facts regarding routing of the towers to the river, while ample space was available to route the towers and transmission line on dry land away from the river; to technically determine strength of the towers, their span length and check the components of fixing of tower assembly and braces; to fix responsibility for design, routing and monitoring of pile work inside the river; assess the loss sustained by the NTDC; reasons for its occurrence and remedial measures to stop occurrence of such incidents in the future; and to make any other recommendations as deemed appropriate by the committee on the issue to strengthen the foundations of the towers.
“The same case is also being probed by the NAB on the issue of rerouting of the line. Therefore, the committee is required to give clear-cut recommendations and fix responsibility on the officers/officials in this regard,” reads the office order.
The agreement on the project, meant to evacuate power from the Chashma nuclear power plant, had been signed in May 2014 with planned completion in 450 days —almost a year and three months — in August 2015, but was delayed and completed in October 2016. “Since the project was financed by local/domestic financial resources, all sorts of violations took place as it was reportedly awarded at a cost over 100 per cent higher than the estimates.
“Substandard pile foundations of the towers were constructed by the contractor in connivance with the NTDC project team headed by the then PD. Resultantly, the seven to eight towers collapsed leading to a power breakdown in the area in July this year,” the source said.
He said the transmission line route was changed from a straight line to the river to put up pile foundations, which are approximately a hundred times costlier.
When contacted, inquiry team convener Muhammad Sakhawat admitted to the non-provision of the records related to the project to the team. “We have written six to seven letters, including the last addressed to the MD, in this regard. We actually want the record related to rerouting of the line, as we desire to know why the route was changed from a straight line to the river bed,” he told Dawn.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021