But surprisingly enough, one cannot find a single clue in the 17-page report about those responsible for misappropriation of public funds. The project took off in 2006-7 in the districts of Layyah, D.G Khan, Jhang, Muzaffargarh and four districts in the central Punjab with headquarter in Sialkot at a cost of Rs 1152 million.
Copy of the report submitted to the secretary a couple of days back and available with The Nation shows that the officers implicated in the scam to the tune of Rs 74 million, who were arrested by the Anti Corruption Establishment (ACE), put behind the bars, suspended from service and tried in the court of law had noting to do with the embezzlement of funds. It is interesting to note that those officers of the department were interrogated against charges of embezzlement who had no direct involvement in its operations. A glance at PC-1 of the project also confirms that the officers who were passed through the departmental scrutiny had no other role but that of coordination.
The documents show that the project was executed by a steering committee headed by Chairman P&D and comprising Secretary Finance, Secretary P&D, Secretary LDD, CEOs of Idara-e-Kisan, Punjab Rural Support Program and some senior officials of the Livestock department. As per the PC-1, Planning and Evaluation Cell of the LDD department and P&D department were assigned the task of monitoring and evaluation. But, none of these officers was ever interrogated for the scam. “The guilty have been saved while an attempt was made to make some officers scapegoats who had no direct involvement in management of the milk processing plant.” said an official on condition of anonymity. He further alleged the present drama was staged just to save the skin of mighty bureaucrats and some politicians actually involved in the scam.
Besides analysing the statements of the officers, the probe committee also wrote their responsibilities in the project. On the basis of available documents, the committee has noted that Secretary LDD had directed that the government officials should not be directly involved in the private enterprise and that the department had no role to monitor the project activities. The committee also observed that the District Livestock Officers (DLOs) were neither responsible for monitoring the project nor involved in distribution of funds. Hence they could not be held responsible in misappropriation.
The reports says that even those officers who joined the project only a just a month before the completion of project were also implicated. It merits mention here that the project was launched despite warnings from the LDD Directorate that it was not feasible. After submission of the inquiry report, questions are being raised about the motive behind implicating, disgracing and suspending the innocent officers and lodging of FIR against them especially when the ACE could not submit the complete challans in the court.
The probe committee comprising LDD Additional Secretary Ramzan Shahid as convenor, LDD Deputy Secretary (tech) Iftikhar Ali, Deputy Secretary (Planning) Khalid Mehmood Ch, Deputy Director, O/O Director General (Extension) Muhammad Ramazan after looking into the agreement, PC-1 and minutes of the meetings regarding milk processing plants declared the accused innocent.
The committee has exonerated Dr Irfan Zahid, Dr Anwar Hussain, Dr Shamsul Hasan, Dr Abdul Rauf, Dr Mansoor Ahmad, Dr Muhammad Saeed, Dr Allah Dewaya Khosa, Aqeel Khan, Abdul Jabbar, Ijaz Qadeer, Rukn-ud-din, Sajjad Zaheer Malik (Retd) and Hanif Khan (Rtd).
Despite the fact that inquiry report was submitted to the Secretary LDD in the first week of January and in the presence of clear instruction from Chief Secretary that litigation cases should be disposed of quickly, the department is yet to inform the ACE Director General about the findings to end the litigation.