An application has been submitted to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against top officials of the Punjab Environment Protection Agency (EPA) – its Director General Dr Javed Iqbal and Monitoring Labs and Implementations (ML&I) Director Tauqeer Qureshi – over the embezzlement of Rs 130 million in purchases for various environmental projects by the EPA, Pakistan Today has learnt.
An application was written to the director general of Punjab NAB by a former employee of the EPA, Yasir Gul Khan. The applications says that the EPD officials have caused a huge loss to the national exchequer in the purchase of substandard equipment which was falsely shown as compatible in government records.
Yasir said in his application that EPA DG Dr Javed Iqbal and ML&I Director Tauqeer Qureshi issued a work order of Rs 17 million in favour of a local firm, Chem Tech Int Pvt Ltd, for the purchase of a machine CP-OES made by a German company ‘Spectro Blue’ to test metals in environmental samples.
The application reads: “According to the work order, it was the responsibility of the local firm to supply the machine, to install it and to keep it functional, but it did not fulfil its responsibility. While the DG and the ML&I director got the bills sanctioned from the Accountant General’s (AG) office after approval of the Environment Protection Department (EPD) secretary, by showing the machine as functional, the machine is, in fact, not being used for testing environmental samples and is lying as a showpiece in the EPD office.”
The application further reads that the DG and the ML&I director of the EPA procured another machine, Compact Air (Air Pointer), from the same local firm to test poisonous gases in the air which is also non-functional and is lying in the EPA office but the department still got released funds of Rs 21 million from the AG’s office for the supplier.
Yasir said that in 2007, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided three high-quality monitoring stations (two earth-bounded and one mobile) to check air quality and to test poisonous gases in the air. The machines cost Rs 90 million in total. He alleged that Tauqeer Qureshi misguided EPD Secretary Iqbal Chuhan in December 2014 regarding the JICA machines and prepared a summary to procure new machines of lower quality to replace them.
“The then EPA DG Farooq Hameed Sheikh prepared a summary in which he explained that the summary prepared by Tauqeer Quershi was based on wrong information because the proposed air pointers were unable to measure the poisonous gases below 100ppb,” he stated adding that Tauqeer destroyed the file with the summary of the DG in the secretary’s office.
The application further said that Tauqeer misguided the secretary that the repair and maintenance cost of all three monitoring stations was Rs 56.68 million while DG Farooq Hameed’s expert calculation estimated the maintenance cost to be only Rs 6.68 million.
Moreover, after the transfer of DG Farooq Hameed Shiekh, Tauqeer, with the collaboration of new DG Dr Javed Iqbal, formed a non-professional and hand-picked technical committee and appointed his cronies to key posts to lay the groundwork for the purchase of the Air Pointers.
“Dr Javed Iqbal and Tauqeer Qureshi intentionally broke the JICA machines which were fully functional and in perfect working condition and had cost Rs 90 million to the national exchequer.”
Yasir further said that Tauqeer Qureshi had already caused a loss of Rs 56 million in 2011 to the public exchequer and an enquiry into the matter was already underway in the Anti-Corruption Department.
Yasir appealed to the NAB DG to form a commission comprising technical and professional officers to fix responsibility for the huge loss to the department.