LAHORE – The government-funded Punjab Rural Support Programme (PRSP) is also involved in the multi-million rupee scam in the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board (PLDDB), reliable sources told TheNation on Sunday.
As many as 11 PLDDB officers, including Director General Dr Irfan Zahid and Idara-e-Kisan Chief Executive Officer Ameeruddin Bokhari, landed in prison after the scam was unearthed. Later, an Anti-Corruption Court released 10 PLDDB officers on bail since the Anti-Corruption Establishment failed to establish a link between these officers and the scam.
According to the sources, some local politicians staged this drama to malign the government-Idara Kisan joint venture. “These politicians levelled baseless allegations against the successful Halla Pasteurised Milk Project to boost their own milk-processing projects, including Anhaar Pasteurised Milk on Chiniot-Jhang Road and Prema Pasteurised Milk in the Kasur district,” the sources claimed.
Two leading political families of the province ran these plants, revealed the sources, adding that to enhance the market of their brands, these politicians decided to malign a successful project like the Halla Pasteurised Milk Project.
After the scam was unearthed, many committees were constituted and they also submitted inquiry reports about the project’s activities in Layyah and Sialkot districts (copies available with TheNation).
The PLDDB secretary and the Chief Minister’s Secretariat ordered probe into the scam on different complaints, including that of Qaisar Abbas Magsi, an MPA from Layyah. The inquiry committee constituted by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif comprised Task Force on Administrative and Financial Efficiency Chairman Syed Farogh Naweed, Dera Ghazi Khan Commissioner Hassan Iqbal, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Nawaz. In addition to departmental inquiries, a third party query by Agro Tech was also conducted to probe the scam.
These committees wrote in their reports that the Idara-e-Kisan by and large achieved the targets set for the project. The third party evaluation report about the Establishment of Milk Processing Plant (EMPP) in Layyah district reveals that from 2006-09, the Idara-e-Kisan spent Rs272.73 million or 82.20 per cent of the released Rs331 million.
The Idara-e-Kisan established 346 milk collection centres against the target of 500 and 41 sub-centres against the target of 50. Moreover, it met the target of setting up seven milk centres, veterinary centres and semen production units. However, the Idara-e-Kisan failed to establish two feed mills and one pasteurisation plant because of some technical problems.
Another committee finding said the Layyah district coordination officer (DCO) created hurdles in the construction work resulting in its stoppage. The chief minister’s inquiry committee recommended that the Layyah DCO may be transferred out of his present assignment and not given the administrative charge of the district in future, so that the construction of a milk plant at Rakh Khairewala could continue without interruption.
The sources revealed that the DCO was influenced by the minister for livestock and dairy development, and the two MPAs who wanted the EMPP in their constituencies, rather on their lands, at the cost of the Idara Kisan.
On the other hand, the PRSP with the same targets could not establish a single milk collection centre, sub-centre, milk centre, semen production unit, feed mill or pasteurisation plant. It could only establish 15 veterinary centres against the target of 20. Similarly, the PRSP could spent only Rs48 million or 18 per cent of the released Rs261 million.
“The PRSP received Rs420 million and returned Rs184 million by June 2012, one year after the project closed down in June 2011,” said a source, adding that the PRSP included liabilities after the project was closed. He also called for a fair audit of the project. Interestingly, however, the PRSP’s name was missing in the scam.
The sources confided to this scribe that the PRSP was launched by Farooq Haroon a retired bureaucrat. Abid Saeed, another bureaucrat, was the chief operating officer of the organisation for about five years before being replaced by Allah Rakha Aasi, another CSP officer. The two civil servants ‘served’ the PRSP on deputation on high remuneration.
EMPP Project Director Dr Sanaullah Bhatti claimed that the PRSP achieved the targets and completed the project in time. Another senior officer of the PRSP refused to talk about the project, while the PRSP spokesperson was not available for comments.