Lahore: Cases against former lab director, 4 other officials
LAHORE: The Anti Corruption Establishment (ACE) has registered two criminal cases against five officials of the Livestock and Dairy Development Department for embezzlement of over Rs35 million in public funds and abuse of authority while posted at the Livestock Production Research Institute (LPRI) in Bahadur Nagar, Okara.
Former director Dr Rasheed Ahmed (BS-19), farm superintendent Dr Munir Ahmed Amer (BS-18), former field assistant (the late) Muhammad Shareef, former office superintendent Muhammad Younis Khan, and former storekeeper Asgher Ali have been accused of offences under Sections 409/420 and 468/471 of the Pakistan Penal Code and 5/2/47 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, according to copies of the first information reports (FIRs).
The cases were registered on November 16, but the police have not arrested the officials, nor has the department initiated action against them. The cases were registered after Rai Muhammad Ifrahim of ACE conducted a preliminary inquiry that confirmed that the allegations against the officials had merit.
Livestock and Dairy Department Director General Zafar Jamil Gill denied allegations that he was patronising the accused officials. He said he had not suspended the officials because it was not mandatory. “They will pay for their wrongdoings,” he said. “They will not be promoted, granted ex-Pakistan leave or get other benefits till they are declared innocent.”
Dr Rasheed Ahmed said that the charges were false and the officials would defend themselves in court.
The Punjab government set up the LPRI in 1962 on a 3,050-acre property in Bahadur Nagar. The institute conducts research on improved cattle breeding, management and disease control practices to increase livestock production.
According to the ACE inquiry, “corrupt management” took control of the institute in 2004 and misappropriated the funding sent its way for research projects. Much of the Rs20 million funding for a cattle grass breeding project was misappropriated, supposedly for growing fodder, purchase of wheat husk and repair of cattle sheds.
Former store keeper Asgher Ali allegedly misappropriated Rs3.2 million in the purchase of feeble and low breed cows for breeding. The officials took Rs1.2 million meant for the purchase of petrol and Rs6 million meant for the purchase of fodder for the cattle housed in the institute.
The management recorded purchases of medicine it never actually bought, leaving a large number of cattle to die because of poor nutrition or lack of medication. Around a million rupees meant for the purchase of rope and chains for animal handling, seeds and semen were also misappropriated. Another million rupees was lost in the purchase of substandard fertiliser.
The farm management started a project for fodder seed production in the private sector at a cost of Rs5.5 million. Sub-standard and refurbished machinery was purchased and it quickly rusted because it was not used regularly or maintained. The management also sold over a thousand trees and pocketed the money, and made fictitious recruitments to draw more money from the public exchequer, according to the FIRs.