- Sources say inductive couple plasma purchased for Rs 2 million more than its market value, certain EPA officials also received kickbacks
- ML&I director says equipment, procured in accordance with set rules, working fine, while sources reveal ICP has not yet been installed in lab
After revelations of irregularities in the purchase of laboratory equipment for Punjab Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) Lahore office, massive irregularities have been detected in the purchase of laboratory equipment for upgradation of EPD’ environmental lab in Multan, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to a report prepared by an EPD committee, irregularities and procedural lapses have been found on part of a technical evaluation committee in the bid finalisation process for purchase of lab equipment for the Multan lab.
Sources in the EPD said that the PC 1 of the said project for the fiscal year 2013-14 prepared by the then deputy director of Multan lab at a cost of Rs 25 million was revised for the year 2014-15, raising the cost of the project to Rs 28 million.
A non-generic tender was advertised on December 11, 2014 to invite interested companies to submit their proposals for bidding, the sources said, adding that this tender was designed in such a way that only the desired company (Chemtech International) could meet the criteria.
After the tender had been advertised, seven companies showed interest, but only four companies Analytical Measurement System (AMS) Pvt Ltd, HA Shah, Prime Scientific and Chemtech International participated in the bidding.
Later, a six-member committee, headed by EPA official Tauqeer Qureshi, was constituted to award the tender for the purchase of lab equipment. The committee awarded the tender to the Chemtech International while the other companies were disqualified.
Thereon one of the disqualified companies, Analytical Measurement System (AMS), lodged a complaint with EPD Secretary Iqbal Muhmmad Chauhan on March 3, 2015 for redress of its grievances. This company, in its application, submitted that the purchase committee had awarded the tender to the Chemtech International in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.
The AMS argued that during the award of the tender, the Chemtech International was given order to supply the equipment called inductive couple plasma (ICP) to measure the gases instead of Perkin Elmer which was more effective and result-oriented than any other equipment which was being used by more than 90 per cent of the research institutions in Pakistan.
The AMS filed another complaint on March 24, 2015 after which a three-member grievance redressal committee, comprising EPA Director (Legal) Nawaz Manik, assistant professor Dr Muhmmad Irfan Jalees and the then EPA deputy director Mian Samiullah, was constituted by the EPD secretary.
This committee, in its findings on May 11, 2015, stated, “The committee observed during the investigation of the relevant record that technical evaluation report’s all comparative findings have not been assented to by all six members who signed its last page which created doubts.” The report further said that the grievance redressal committee had come to a conclusion that serious procedural lapses happened in the bidding process. “In technical sphere, in instant case, the technical evaluation committee committed irregularities in comparative analysis and bid finalisation process or decision making,” it added.
Later on, the same project was put in the ADP scheme 2015-16 and a tender was advertised, but despite reservations of the grievance redressal committee, the Environmental Protection Agency (a subordinate organistaion of EPD) purchased the same equipment, inductive couple plasma, from the Chemtech International at a cost of Rs 16 million.
Sources however said that the amount paid for the ICP was two million rupees more than its market value where certain EPA officials also received kickbacks. However, the sources could not tell how much commission these EPA officials had received.
Separately, an amount of Rs 12 million was spent on purchase of other equipment for the Multan laboratory under the ADP scheme, but it could not be utilised accordingly as well.
When contacted, EPA spokesman Nazim Ayaz sounded ignorant of any purchase in the department.
The Monitoring Lab and Implement (ML&I) director however told Pakistan Today that the Chemtech International had been awarded the work order, since it fulfilled the criteria and had low rates than other competitors. He claimed that everything regarding procurement of equipment for the laboratory was done in accordance with the rules and laws, adding that the equipment was working fine.
Sources however revealed that the purchased equipment has not yet been installed in the Multan lab.