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Government Approved Contract Of Neelum-Jhelum Project CFO In Violation Of PPRA Regulation

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ISLAMABAD: The government appears to have approved the contract for Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project (NJHPP) to an incompetent Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in violation of the Public Procurement Regulation (PPRA), a reliable source in the Ministry of Water Resources told this scribe. The source prefers not to be named.

Documents available to this scribe indicate that the Board of Directors (BOD), in its last meeting, approved the contract of the CFO which was opposed earlier by same body on the grounds of reservations that included him having no relevant qualifications as well facing various sexual harassment charges in different courts filed by the employees of the project.

It is pertinent to mention that NJHPP’s 47th Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, held on the 30th of May 2019, had decided against the award of a fresh contract to CFO Hamid Mehmood.

The board had maintained, “In case of Hamid Mahmood, the proposal of appointment (dated 24th of June 2016) does not have any provision for extension of contract beyond three years. Therefore, a fresh hiring process may be initiated on a competitive basis as per PPRA Ordinance 2002.”

But the source inside the ministry told this scribe that the post was not advertised in any national Urdu or English newspaper, nor even on the official website, according to the PPRA rules and regulations – a practice which is illegal.

The Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Station is located in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad area, and has an installed capacity of 969MW.

In 2007, a Chinese consortium, the Gezhouba Group, and the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation, were offered a contract to construct the dam and power station. The cost of the project has since gone up by Rs96 billion, from Rs404.321 billion to Rs500.343 billion, due to delaying tactics and negligence on the part of the management.

Another source in the NJHPP revealed that the high profile project was still waiting for the hiring of new staff in Muzaffarabad, as the liability period for Chinese engineers would end this year. According to the rules, new staff should be hired during the liability period so that they may receive training from Chinese counterparts.

The source further added that said CFO served more than 3 years on the said project but was illegally awarded the contract and it was now again extended in violation of the PPRA regulations. He further added that the CFO Hamid Mahmood is backed by powerful people including a Minister and the DG Water Resources Meher Ali Shah – because of the privileges they provide to both.

The source further added that it can be verified from the account of Kashmala Tariq as to how many harassment cases are under process against the CFO. The said CFO was previously serving in a cement factory in Peshawar.

It is pertinent to mention here that the DG Water earlier vowed to form an inquiry against the illegal process but nothing came of this, according to a source in the ministry.

This scribe made various attempts to contact DG Water Meher Ali Shah but he didn’t respond despite messages received and seen on his official Whatsapp number.

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