SC orders audit of Thar coal power project

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court instructed the Auditor General of Pakistan Javaid Jahangir to conduct a forensic audit of the Thar coal power project.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar also instructed Jahangir to submit the audit report within 15 days and said the court would like to send this issue to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)”.
“A lot will come to the forefront during the investigation.”
However, Justice Nisar said the court would first wait for the audit to be completed and would then judge if there were any discrepancies in the project.
NAB prosecutor Asghar Haider also presented a report regarding the project before the court and Dr Samar Mubarakmand was also present during the hearing.
Lawyers assigned as assistants to the court, Salman Akram Raja and Shehzad Elahi, also presented their recommendations to the court.
Mubarakmand refuted the recommendation presented to the court by the lawyers and said that Elahi and Raja have no expertise in the case.
Justice Nisar said the project incurred a loss of Rs4 billion and added that those who approved the project should also be investigated.
The provincial advocate general informed the court that the entire project was funded by the federal government, while the land was provided by the Sindh government.
The top court also instructed the chief secretary of the province to confiscate the assets of the project and also furnish pictures of the machinery employed at the project site.
In 2016, media reported a sharp reduction in the project’s funds in fiscal year 2015-16 and zero allocation for the 2016 budgetary year and that the government’s much-touted Thar underground coal gasification (UGC) project had been left high and dry.

With its promising power generation capability remaining far from being harnessed, the employees after having worked for several years confronted the outlook of either continuing their jobs without pay or being laid-off.

The federal budget for 2016-17 did not allocate funds for the project. In the 2015-2016 financial year, only Rs300 million, from Rs1.2 billion earmarked for the project were released, according to the MD.
The pilot power production of 8MW began in May 2015. But the project’s commercial production of 100MW, as per the original plan, had not obtained the government’s nod of approval.