Even as top government functionaries, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself, proclaim that an impartial inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of the Nandipur Power Project (NPP) will vindicate them, there seems to be no movement on efforts to find out what actually went wrong in the multi-billion rupee project.
Former Supreme Court judge, retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid has turned down the PM’s offer to head an inquiry commission into the NPP scandal. Sources say that Justice Zahid expressed his unavailability to lead the inquiry due to personal commitments.
Meanwhile, embattled NPP Managing Director Captain M. Mehmood has also called into question the formation of a separate inquiry committee — initiated by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) — saying, “Since the forum evoked is not appropriate, therefore, a conflict of interest can occur.” Moreover, a private audit firm selected by the government to scrutinise the 425MW NPP has refused to conduct a commercial and technical appraisal of the project and has only agreed to examine the financial side of the project. As a result, the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) is the only third party that is assessing the project and looking into the reasons behind the delays incurred and examining how, after an investment of Rs57 billion, the plant still failed to produce electricity.
However, with the incumbent AGP Rana Asad Amin being a close confidant of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, critics of the government argued that a free and impartial audit of the much-touted NPP was not possible. Former AGP Buland Akhtar Rana, who was unceremoniously removed through a reference before the Supreme Judicial Council, claims he was victimised because he questioned the federal government’s unchecked spending in the power sector. With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif back in the country after his three-week trip abroad, the focus will now be on how to get third-party clearance for the NPP. Talking to Dawn, a senior government official linked to the power sector said, “There were so many missing links in the NPP — primarily because Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was in the driving seat all along — that responsibility has to be fixed on somebody.” There are a few obvious questions which have to be answered even if it is just the AGP conducting an audit of the NPP, added the official.