ATTOCK-A massive corruption scandal has been detected involving officials of the Punjab Mines and Mineral Department for allegedly allowing illegal extraction of placer gold worth millions of rupees on the pretext of quarrying gravel and sand from Indus River near Attock, the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) sources confided to this report on Wednesday.

Director Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Rawalpindi Region Arif Raheem while talking to newsmen here on Wednesday, said that the ACE has registered separate corruption cases against five persons including four officials of the Punjab Mines and Minerals Department including its former DG on charges of illegal mining contract, causing loss to national exchequer worth millions of rupees.

“The enquiry team was constituted on July 26, following complaints of awarding the contract on a reduced price,” he informed, adding that according to initial investigation into the matter, ACE Rawalpindi region detected massive irregularities and misuse of authority in the conduct of the mining department, causing a huge loss to the national exchequer. The contractor company, with the connivance of the Punjab Mines and Mineral Department, subsequently started extraction of placer gold from the site, causing a loss of millions of rupees to the national exchequer, he added.

He said that department on the recommendation of joint inquiry team found guilty four officials of Punjab Mines and Minerals Department including Director General Zaffar Javaid, Manager Rashid Lateef, Manager Rafi Ullah Khan, Manager Rizwan Saqib Bajwa, Geologist Usman Ali and contractor Mukhtar Ahmed for causing loss worth millions of rupees to national exchequer by illegally allotting quarrying and mining at bank of River Indus at Wessa in district Attock. The ACE has registered a case against nominated accused under section 420, 109, 167 and 409 Pakistan Panel Code (PPC) at Anti-Corruption Establishment Police station.

Mr Raheem said that according to report of the probe conducted by joint investigation, it was revealed that illegal and unjustified new zone on the pretext of mining gravel and sand was created by the Punjab Mines and Minerals Department along the bank of River Indus at Wessa in district Attock, in violation of existing rules with malafide intention to pave the path for extraction of placer gold from the site on the pretext of quarrying and mining of gravel and sand.

The director further revealed that the accused officials reduced the reserved price of the newly-created zone from Rs303 million to only Rs100 million without any justified calculations to extend undue benefit to the contactor, causing loss a sum of Rs203 million to the national exchequer allegedly after their palms were greased. He said that as the four officials were found guilty of misusing their official powers, embezzlement and fraud by creating new zone illegally as well as causing loss to national kitty.

The ACE has launched further investigation.