Punjab govt accused of selling Rs3.8bn track for Rs90million
ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Farooq Naek has directed the federal government to present a comprehensive report on the alleged shady sale of 40-kilometre-long railway track in Bahawalpur by the Punjab government when the house meets on Wednesday morning.
“Please ask the minister to come to the house with a comprehensive report on the matter,” Mr Naek directed Leader of the House Nayyar Bokhari to convey the message to federal Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour after an opposition senator belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) drew the attention of the house towards the alleged sale of 40-km railway track in Bahawalpur worth Rs3.8 billion for a price of only Rs90 million to a Lahore-based company, the Nawaz and Co, by the Punjab government.
PML-Q Senator and a former information minister in the previous military regime Mohammad Ali Durrani claimed that the fisheries department of the Punjab government had sold the railway track which was the only link between Ahmadpur and the Panjnad Headworks.
The senator alleged that the 40-km track had been sold at a price which was even less than the cost of laying a 1-km-long track. He claimed that while making this deal, the Punjab government had even breached its own rules as the railway record showed that Rs800 million had been offered for the same track in 2004 but the-then administration had rejected that amount.
Senator Durrani also shared copies of two letters written by the Pakistan Railways authorities in Multan asking the Punjab government not to go for the sale and seek a “no objection certificate” from it but the sale was made setting aside these communiquÃ©. He said the railway authorities had also sent copies of these letters to district coordination officer (DCO), Bahawalpur, and the chief engineer (irrigation) but the same were trashed and the government went ahead with its sale plans which reflected “irregularities in the deal”.
“Rather than cancelling the deal, the fisheries and the police officials escorted the employees of Nawaz and Co and the track dismantling process was launched. The wooden and metal tracks were loaded into huge trucks and sent to Lahore under the supervision of police officials,” added the senator.
He termed it a “mega corruption scam” and called for a thorough probe into it. He asked the Senate chairman to use his powers and get the deal cancelled and the track reinstalled.
“If this house fails in getting the corrupt officials fixed, the people of the country will be justified in believing that parliament is merely a debating club and is helpless in checking corrupt practices,” he added.