Court convicts 6, including two former DFOs for embezzlement in environment friendly projects

HYDERABAD:The Accountability Court on Monday convicted 6 persons including 2 former District Forest Officers for varying terms besides penalties in a corruption reference.

According to details, the judge Inam Ali Kalhoro found ex-DFO Muhammad Anwar Baloch and his son Nasrullah Baloch, ex-DFO Irshad Ali Jessar, Regional Forest Officer (RFO) Muhammad Suhail Shaikh, his brothers Muhammad Waqas Shaikh and Arsalan Shaikh guilty of embezzling the public funds.

The accused allegedly embezzled Rs 40 million funds in Habitat Restoration and Promotion of Ecotourism through Development of Wildlife Safari in Boharki Forest, Badin district.

The investigation started on September 2, 2015, and during the course of investigation it surfaced that the PC-1 of the project was approved for Rs155 million but it was later revised to Rs250 million.

For the project some 24 civil works were approved and 22 of them were advertised and later were split into 30 civil works in clear violation of SPPRA Rules, 2010.

The contracts were allegedly awarded to the favourite contractors by the Tender Committee, which was headed by Baloch as its Secretary, according to the NAB investigators.

Some 12 firms participated in the bidding out of which 4 belonged to the DFO Baloch’s son Nasrullah while one was owned by his friend Khadim Hussain.

As per the record, 19 contracts of the civil works were awarded to both of them including 14 to Baloch’s son.

The investigation found that the officers claimed utilization of Rs53.69 million on new plantation, rehabilitation of existing vegetation, reclamation of forest land, silt clearance, maintenance and other works. The actual expenditures on the said works at over Rs30 million while Rs22.861 million amount was embezzled.

The NAB also dug out that Suhail by means of impersonation got his brother Waqas appointed as the RFO in his place.

Suhail was appointed after qualifying Sindh Public Service Commission

conducted exam, possessing the required qualification of forestry as well.

After his appointment he was supposed to join training at Pakistan Forest Institute Peshawar but he fraudulently sent his brother Waqas in his place.

Both of them received illegal salaries calculated at Rs1.2467 million.

Baloch was accused of managing fake and sham bidding processes in

connivance with Riaz Ahmed Wagan, Saeed Akhtar Baloch, Jam Muhammad

Soomro, Khadim Hussain and his son Nasrullah. The payments were released without execution of the works.

Wagan and Saeed Akhtar being the Conservators Forest in Thatta

district were members of the Tender Committee.

The DFO Jessar, who headed forest department in Tando Muhammad Khan

district, also made payments to Nasrullah without execution of works.

Arsalan received a sum of Rs3.3 million from the embezzled funds from

NBP, TMK, account of the RFO to his personal account in Meezan Bank in

Hyderabad. Jessar and his brother Waqas had deposited the said amount.

The ex-DFO Baloch and his son, owner of M/S A.A. Enterprises, M/S Azad

Engineers and Contractors and M/S Azad Enterprises, a resident of

Hyderabad, were convicted for 5 years in prison and Rs4 million fine

each.

The RFO Suhail and Waqas were also convicted with 5 years jail term

and Rs5 million fine each while their brother received punishment of 2

years imprisonment and Rs2 million fine.

On the basis of his feeble health condition and a lack of evidence

against collection of illegal assets, Jessar was punished with only

one year imprisonment and Rs5 million fine.

Four of the accused persons who were present in the courtroom were

arrested and shifted to Nara Jail, Hyderabad.

The court issued non-bailable warrants against Baloch and his son who

were not present in the courtroom.