PR corruption cases be sent to NAB: SC

Supreme CourtISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday directed Pakistan Railways (PR) secretary to send the cases of officials allegedly involved in corruption to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), as it has become functional now.

The court ordered Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Maulvi Anwarul Haq to convene a meeting with the high-ups of the Railways to formulate a comprehensive strategy for making the department functional and submit the details on the next date of hearing.The court directed PR Chairman Javed Ahmed to file a report of the officials involved in selling scrap on a throwaway price and purchasing bulbs of Rs7 market value at an exuberant price of Rs400 per piece.

He was also asked to take effective measures for retrieving Railways valuable properties from land mafia in Karachi and Lahore.These directions were given as a two-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard a suo moto case regarding the non-payment of salaries and pension to the PR employees and workers.

During the proceedings, the court observed that there is great potential in various organisations like National Logistics Cell (NLC) and Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) Taxila whose service could be hired for repairing the faulty locomotives in the greater national interest.The chief justice observed that most of the engines were non-functional while no concrete steps had been taken for bringing them back on track, which was a criminal negligence. Railways officials have destroyed the department, he added. He asked the high-ups of Railways department to take the worsening situation as a challenge.

Expressing his dismay over the irregularities in the department, the CJ said that a country where last week a stealth missile was test-fired successfully, the PR authorities could not find anyone to repair the faulty locomotives. He said that between Lahore to Khanewal the electric train was operational, but now even the electric wires have been stolen.Former federal minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad submitted his application over the dismal situation in the Railways. He informed that Sameen Gandapur, a Grade 18 officer had been posted at Grade 20 post of Purchase Officer on the directives of Railways minister. He said that millions of rupees had been spent to renovate and furnish his bungalow in Mayo Garden, Lahore.

Sheikh Rashid added that 15 to 18 Railways technicians were sent on forced leaves, adding that 1,100 spare parts were imported on high price, while there was a need of only 102 spare parts. He said in September 2009, Rs1.5 billion were given in advance to a Chinese company for the repair of 69 locomotives whereas this amount was allocated for procurement of 520 locomotives but still not a single procurement of any of the locomotives had been done.

He said that there are 40 engines that could be repaired within a week.“Three General Mangers and three additional GMs are on the duty in Railways but in spite of that no freight train is operational and 124 passengers trains have been closed down,” he added. He said that 16,500 freight wagons and 1,552 passenger coaches are available but are not being put to use.

Sheikh Rashid said that scrap of Rs1billion value was sold at the rate of Rs23,000 per tonne when the rate was Rs50,000 per tonne and the case is pending in Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He blamed that engines are being imported just to get commissions and nothing else.Earlier, PR Chairman Javed Ahmed submitted a report before the court saying that steps were being taken to make payments to pensioners with opening of new accounts with zero balance in the scheduled banks near their houses and the process would take at least one month. He said that the management would issue pension of November in advance from November 1, 2011 due to Eidul Azha.

He, however, said that the payment of pension through scheduled banks would start from December. The Railways chairman further informed that a task force has been constituted to make 46 engines out of the 360 engines operational soon.The court directed the Railway Board secretary to concentrate on taking effective measures for resolving the matter, with the directives to involve the employees, having expertise instead of relying on the people from private sector. The court adjourned the hearing till November 10. – Nation