LAHORE - Though completion of construction at much-hyped Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory is not in sight, yet the cash strapped Punjab government continues unnecessary spendings by paying Rs2.4 million salary to 32 highly paid contract and on deputation employees every month, TheNation has learnt. First-ever international standard forensic science laboratory to investigate high-level criminal cases was scheduled to start functioning near Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore on 20 kanal and 18 marla covered area in July 2010 but lack of funds caused abrupt halt to construction work. The Punjab government has so far spent over Rs one billion on the site but lack of further allocation has stopped work when hardly half of the construction was completed. Completely ignoring the market rate, the government awarded contract to a firm Al-Imam Construction to construct building at a hefty rate of Rs6,000 per square foot. Till today, no govt building has been constructed even at a rate of Rs2,000 per square foot. Though the construction of building has yet to be completed, the government has acquired software worth over Rs260 million besides importing sophisticated equipment worth over Rs750 million from the United States. The government has shifted recently imported equipment to a portion of under construction building of Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory. Sources claimed that Project Manager of Forensic Science Agency and Laboratory Nayyar Mehmood awarded the contract of purchasing software to his close relative and that of equipment to his close aid. They alleged that irregularities in the process of awarding contract for procurement caused huge loss to government exchequer. The officials fear that lack of proper handling and maintenance can cause damage to costly equipment, as resumption of construction work on the laboratory building is not insight in near future due to scarcity of funds. Besides doing the needless thing of purchasing equipment even before the completion of building construction, the government also spent a hefty amount of Rs110 million on providing training to 32 employees from the US. According to the insiders, the project manager hired the services of these employees on his own instead of involving Punjab Public Service Commission. Interestingly, the group of 32 people that left for the US on November 13, 2009 on Ittehad Airlines flight included two pregnant ladies. One Humaira Shafi gave birth to her son only one and a half month after landing in the US. As such the lady managed to get the US citizenship for her newly born child on the expenses of Punjab govt. On realising the actual situation, the prudent US authorities, however, sent the other lady Noor Fatima back to Pakistan before her giving birth to a child. Interestingly, all 32 contract employees of Punjab Forensic Science Agency returned home without getting a certificate from the Cleveland State University. The facilities in the laboratory when it will be completed include audio video research, computer forensic, probe into crime death scene, DNA, firearms, fingerprints, drugs, forensic pathology, forensic photography, polygraph, trace chemistry, investigation, serology, investigation of documents and others.