The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed Chairman of Pakistan Railways (PR) to identify officials indulging in irregularities in the sale of scrap, purchase of Railway goods and refer their cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for investigation.
“The Valuable property of railway shall be taken back from land mafia all over the country and if Railway needs help or assistance it can take from administration,” CJ maintained.
The court also directed Attorney General to request National Logistic Cell (NLC), Heavy Mechanical Complex Taxila (HMC) and other institutions for repairing of locomotives in the larger interest of the nation.
The SC Bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, conducted the hearing on suo motu notice regarding delayed payment of dues to the pensioners of Pakistan Railways.
During course of hearing, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed former Minister for Pakistan Railways submitted his written application before the court and said that in September 2009, an amount of Rs1.5 billion was given as an advance to Chinese company for repair of 69 locomotives whereas this amount of Rs1.5 billion was allocated for procurement of 520 locomotives. Still not a single procurement of any of the 69 locomotives has been done.
He said that in the Mechanical Department, 12 to 20 qualified mechanics who could repair the old engines have been sent on forced leave with malafide intention so that the old engines may not be repaired and instead of repairing the old engines, new engines may be imported which is a huge loss to the national exchequer.
“Three G.M.s and three additional G.M.s are on duty in Railways but in spite of that no freight train is operational and 124 passenger trains have been closed down” he added.
There are 16,500 freight wagons and 1552 passenger coaches available but are not being put to use,he maintained.
He said that there was a fleet of 528 locomotives, however only 57 are on running condition and that too are not in a dependable condition.
Sheikh Rasheed said that General Manager (Operations) Railways Muhammad Ishfaq Khattak, in his letter No. G.M. Misc. 03/2011 dated 19,3,2011 has highlighted serious irregularities and revealed that one safety valve of the cooler is more expensive than the entire compressor. It further reveals that out of 500 locomotives only 156 were functioning.
He said that bogus tickets were being sold by a mafia which was causing huge loss to Railways.
Sheikh further stated that Railways has handed over carriage of fuel and other commodities to various parties instead of Railways which is escalating inflation and loss to Railways.
He said that project of Rs14 billion for repair of signals has been given to favourites in violation of the Rules and Regulations.
Sheikh alleged that scrap valuing Rs1 billion sold at the rate of Rs23,000/ per ton when the rate was over Rs50,000/ per ton and the case is pending with F.I.A.
He said that Railways was importing 200 coaches from China at the cost four times higher than the ones being produced at Carriage Factory, Islamabad.
From 20 to 30 coaches per month were produced at Carriage Factory, Islamabad and now the labour has no work to do as the coaches are being imported and that too at a higher price. The Carriage Factory at Islamabad manufactured 400 coaches earlier, Sheikh added.
Chairman Railway Javed Iqbal apprised the court that steps are being taken to make payments to pensioners and opening of their accounts in the scheduled banks near their residences and ensured the court that pension of December would be transferred in their accounts.
Chairman Railways assured the apex court that pensioners will be paid pension amount for October from Tuesday (November 1) and they will also get tomorrow pension for the month of November as Eid advance as well.
Regarding the repairing of locomotives, he said that a task force comprising competent and honest officials has been constituted which would repair 46 locomotives out of 362 as soon as possible.
Chief Justice observed that it was a criminal negligence of the Railway officials as they did not repair any locomotives out of 362 as it becomes defaulted.
“The nation is suffering due to the negligence of Railways officials”, the CJ remarked.
Chief Justice directed the Secretary Railways Board and Chairman to look into the matter seriously and take services of their own Engineers for restoration of faulty locomotives instead of hiring from outside unless they were indulged in corruption and “Bring locomotives on the track as soon as possible”.
Further hearing of the case was adjourned till November 10.