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SC orders NAB to grill Dr Mubarakmand over Thar coal project failure

SC orders NAB to grill Dr Mubarakmand over Thar coal project failure

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday has been directed by the Supreme Court (SC) to take action against nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand and others responsible for losses caused to the national exchequer in the Thar coal gasification project.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ordered NAB to investigate the individuals in light of the final audit report of the project, which was presented by the Auditor General of Pakistan in court.

As the hearing went underway, the court said that the project was not “implementable” and had caused a heavy financial loss to the country.

Justice Nisar remarked that “Dr Samar Mubarakmand said that Pakistan would get free electricity but over Rs4 billion had been wasted.”

“Samar Mubarakmand is responsible for this,” Justice Nisar said. “He had made big claims but now he will have 20 excuses. Who will be held accountable for the billions of rupees that were spent?”

Following this, Dr Mubarakmand said, “Rs1bn was spent on the feasibility”, adding that “the government had approved the project after testing it”.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Attorney General told the court that electricity is yet to be generated from the project despite spending Rs4.69bn on it.

“It was the Sindh government’s responsibility to run this project,” the DAG reminded the SC bench.

The court instructed the federal government to furnish its report on the project within six weeks before adjourning the case until an unspecified date.

Earlier, on October 18, SC ordered a forensic audit of the Thar coal project, directing the NAB to probe the matter and submit a report within 15 days.

In addition to that, the apex court had also sought a response from the Sindh government on the implementation of a report’s recommendations to avert environmental threats from the project.

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the Thar Coal Block II with his Adviser on Information Murtaza Wahab and provincial Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh to inspect the site and the health facilities.

Following the inspection, the Sindh CM stated that around 96 per cent of the work had been completed and added that “while the generation of electricity was scheduled in June 2019, it will now take place before schedule in the last week of January or the first week of February”.