Report on Rawalpindi Ring Road: ‘Punjab govt loses Rs2 billion on Attock Loop’

by Tauqeer Abbas

Shafaqna Pakistan: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Khan Buzdar was kept in the dark about the inclusion of a controversial part of the Rawalpindi Ring Road — the Attock Loop/Paswal Zigzag — a move which caused loss of Rs2 billion to the national exchequer finally.

“No separate meeting with the CM Punjab [Usman Khan Buzdar] was held for finalisation of route alignment for the R3 project as decided in the 3rd PSC and 3rd PPP and P&M Board meetings held on June 24, 2020 and July 3, 2020 respectively. Payments made in Attock without any authority by LAC and caused loss to the government worth around Rs2 billion,” read the final confidential report submitted before Prime Minister Imran Khan this week.

Imran Khan directed Director General Anti-Corruption Establishment, Punjab, Gohar Nafees to probe issues linked to the alignment, conflict of interest, rent seeking and misuse of authority in the R3. The inquiry report identified four issues of alignment, land acquisition, housing societies and rent seeking on the basis of reference received from the government of Punjab.

“Final decision on inclusion of Attock Loop/Paswal Zigzag and issuance of variation order was subject to submission of holistic comparative analysis containing cost benefit analysis to the project steering committee (PSC). This was not done and decisions were taken by the ex-commissioner/PD himself. It is evident from the record that the PD [project director] was taking decision on his own and later on tried to get the nod of higher fora by concealing the facts,” read a 38-page report exclusively made available with The News.

The premier was informed that the enquiry committee is of the considered view that the summary to the then CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif had clearly stated that the alignment was finalised by the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) after detailed studies of different routes by the consultants. The same was proved by the CM and hence, mode of execution as well as alignment stand approved by CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif in 2018, revealed the report stating that the reply of the Ex-PD and EX-DG RDA are contradictory to the summary approved by the then CM Punjab in March 2018.

“The PSC meeting due on Jan 31, 2020 was never held and the concept paper for Phase-II extension of R3 was never discussed in PSC or any other forum. Therefore, the claim of the project director is misleading against the facts and tantamount to misconduct,” read the report.

This alignment was never made part of any project proposal as Shehbaz Sharif decided to execute the process through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) loan financing, read the report.

“This being a policy decision, a summary for the chief minister Punjab stating inter alia that the current alignment was finalised by RDA after detailed study of different routes by the consultant in March 7, 2018. The CM was requested to approve execution of the R3 by RDA through AIIB loans. This fact supports the contention that the alignment of R3 proposed by M/s NESPAK was approved by the CM in 2018. So any subsequent change in alignment was required to be approved by the CM Punjab as well,” stated the report.

Confidential report continued to reveal that a serious violation is issuance of section four for Murat Mauza of district Attock even before approval of nothing from the commissioner assigning powers.

“The nothing was approved on Mar 24, 2012 while the section for Murat District Attock was issued by Waseem Ali Tabish on March 6, 2021. So all the proceedings regarding Attock to be illegal, yet issuance of a notification before even the proposal for assigning powers was initiated speaks volume about unholy nexus between commission/PD, PMU and LAC office,” read the report.

The report also highlighted anomalies in the rates finalised for acquired land in Rawalpindi and Attock. “In Attock, categories of Lappara, Maira, etc. adopted neglecting the classification of land which resulted in overpayment of millions of rupees to some owners when their land was declared bagheecha etc as against factual position,” the report continued to reveal.

The rates were kept low in Rawalpindi to adjust the extra cost of acquisition in Attock, stated the report. The same issue is examined in detail and comparison of the fixed rates with the valuation table has been done to analyse the facts, stated the report.

Source: The News (Writer: Zahid Gishkori)

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