Garam Chashma Diary: Irregularities in development works

By Islamuddin       

Large scale irregularities have come to light in the award of contracts and execution of projects in Garam Chashma area. The Droshp-Garam Chashma section of Chitral-Garam Chashma road remained in bad shape for the last three years. The money allocated for carpeting was misutilized for digging and erecting plump concrete wall to benefit parties. Walls made through GI wires and stones could have been more durable and cheaper but less profitable for the contractor.
Not surprisingly the entire amount was spent on this work and the main item of carpeting was left for further funding which took three years. Despite promises made to the sponsoring Minister and villagers to direct the flow of water to its original course, that was diverted for raising the wall was not fulfilled by the contractor and C &W Department. As a result village Gajal faces imminent danger of flood havoc in peak season and the villagers have reserved their right to sue the contractor and the Department for damages and compensation if their village is hit in a flood.
Now when the work has resumed another set of irregularities has come to light. The width of the road at Chew bridge is 40 feet but in Garam Chasma where it was 28 feet in the past, it has been extended to 48 feet to benefit certain parties. Mercifully the high ups decided to reduce it to 34 feet but land filling is being carried out for 40 feet and the Department is due to make payment to the contractor for the unnecessary filling. While ignoring encroachments in some areas, the Department is making payments to people for lands which belong to the state according to Settlement records, court decisions and land utilization rules of the provincial government. Any payable amount if at all should have gone to DOR. Instead of protecting state interests government functionaries are serving vested interests.
The fate of other development projects is not different. During my recent visit to Karimabad. I was astonished that funds for the repair and widening of the road have not reached the ground even to the extent of 10%. No retaining walls could be seen and the road may well relapse in spring. The same will go to Arkari and other link roads. There is no doubt that Minister Saleem Khan, hailing from this area did bring considerable funds but executing and oversight outfits have done a very bad job. There have been lacks of supervisory controls, resulting in poor quality work, ghost projects and incomplete ones but still got clearance for payment. Garam Chashma town drinking water supply project has yet to take off despite allocation of funds. It is a sad commentary on the performance of elected representatives past and present that the town area still remains without drinking water while surrounding villages have this facility thanks to WASEP of Aga Khan Network. Similarly Garam Chashma remains deprived of Government electricity. The SHYDO facility after privatization is dysfunctional and nobody is doing anything about it. A Thermal Project gifted by Nusrat Bhutoo is working only for two hours a day. A power house arranged by Minister Saleem Khan has been hijacked by Green Power in the same way as the SHYDO power house and work on it is not taking place although it should have been completed by now to provide electricity to the town and give electoral advantage to the Minister who had procured funds for it. It may be noted that villages have electricity thanks to AKRSP but the town depends on government power houses which are not functioning.
There are many more instances of irregularities, mismanagement and wastage of resources. It is time that Minister Saleem Khan requested NAB and anti-corruption establishment to carry out investigation into the implementation of the projects funded by him otherwise it will damage him politically during the forthcoming polls.
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