News Analysis |
Punjab Government admitted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the Punjab government’s Saaf Pani project company (PSPC) has yet to make available a single drop of water to its citizens despite spending Rs 400 crore on the project.
Briefing the SC, the CEO of the project informed that company had outlaid a sum of Rs 300 million to acquire the services of a foreign consultant. Though the complete cost of the project is Rs 150 billion, the company has so far spent Rs 400 crore on the installation of 116 plants for clean water, and none is operational.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had taken the suo motu action against the alleged irregularities in appointment of staff in the PSPC. A two-member bench of the SC headed by CJP Saqib Nisar is hearing the case at its Lahore Registry.
This project has fallen apart and has nothing to show, despite spending Rs400 crore on the project. Metropolitans, towns, and villages in Punjab are forced to drink poisonous and dirty water due to the absence of functional water filtration plants.
CJP was particularly angry over the inclusion of Provincial Minister Zaeem Qadri’s brother and wife in the PSPC’s board of directors. He questioned the eligibility criterion adopted to include Zaeem Qadri’s brother, Asim Qadri, and his wife, Uzma Qadri in the project.
He also directed the CEO to provide a complete record, including salaries, and the fringe benefits attached to their roles in PSPC. CJP had also taken the Suo Motu action over the release of untreated polluted water into Punjab’s rivers and canals.
On February 11, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had told the court that his office would formulate a comprehensive plan for the provision of clean water to the citizens of Lahore, after being summoned over the daily leakage of 540 million gallons of sewage and untreated wastewater discharge in the river.
The project came under severe criticism over the huge advertising campaign, large salaries being paid to local and foreign consultants, and alleged nepotism in the project. On the orders of CJP, NAB prosecutor general has been summoned on April 14, to shed light on the investigation on the project.
Punjab Government admits in the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the Punjab government’s Saaf Pani project company (PSPC) is yet to make available a single drop of water to its citizens despite spending Rs400 crore on the project.
In early February, NAB had alleged that Punjab government was not submitting the record of PSPC, despite various requests. Apparently, Shahbaz Sharif was accused of violating the PPRA rules in the award of contracts. Resultantly, the PSPC were reluctant to share their records with NAB. It was alleged that the CM had directly awarded the project to his favored company without providing equal opportunities to other companies.
NAB in March quizzed the three senior bureaucrats of Punjab over the alleged ill practices in public sector companies including Punjab Saaf Pani Company. Companies working under Shahbaz were accused of violation of meritocracy, and of nepotism. Moreover, irregularity in audits and non-transparency of these companies [which worked in direct supervision of CM] made them controversial.
Such irresponsibility over water, when masses in Punjab are subjected to a number of diseases, indeed questions the priority of the rulers. This project has fallen apart and has nothing to show, despite spending Rs400 crore on the project. Metropolitans, towns, and villages in Punjab are forced to drink poisonous and dirty water due to the absence of functional water filtration plants.
Mismanagement not only has a grave impact on people’s health but also wastes a huge amount of taxpayers’ money that has been spent on this project. The individuals responsible for managing the Saaf Pani Project Company must be held responsible.