Report GH Farooqui
CHITRAL: The conditions of roads in Chitral have deteriorated due to the lack of reconstruction and maintenance with most of the tracks being eaten away by flowing water.
But there is no one to look after these roads even though the communication and works (C&W) department officials pocket millions of rupees every year in the name of maintenance.
When this correspondent visited the C&W department office in Chitral it emerged that many staff were sitting at homes or doing their own business and never performed their duties for long.
Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Tariq Ali confirmed that some staff were drawing their salaries while sitting at homes without performing any duty. He said road maintenance workers including Shujauddin from Barenis, Rahmat Baig from Singor, Bashir Ahmad from Singor, Fazluddin from Singor, Rahmat Qadir, gardener from Denin, road workers Muhammad Gul, Munawar Shah from Zargarandeh had been absent since long and were issued notices for their absence.
He said Fazluddin of Singor had been issued notices since 2015 but he never attended the office but was still drawing salary sitting at home.
When this scribe contacted account officer and head clerk and asked why the salaries of the absent officials were not stopped, he replied that he had withheld the salaries but later leeased it on the direction of the XEN because of pressure from some influential persons.
He said Shujauddin from Barenis was settled in Lahore and declared himself so-called president of the union. He is having close links with officers of the department who are sending his salary to him from the Chitral office.
Altaf Hussain, former head clerk of the C&W department, said some road workers were grazing their goats in the forest and getting salary from the department. He said a culvert at Singor remained blocked but the C&W official there was using the water to irrigate his personal land.
Rahmat Karim, vice chairman village council Singor, told this scribe that in this case the XEN was totally responsible. He said first the department constructed the culvert wrongly due to which water started choking there.
Secondly, the department gave a free hand to its worker who never performed his duty. As a result, water was flowing on the main road and in winter season it became more dangerous due to freezing.
Faisal Elahi, Samiuddin, Professor Muhammad Dost and other residents complained that they had been facing problems due to the accumulation of water on the road.
When contacted, XEN Maqbool Azam denied the allegations and told this scribe on phone from Peshawar that he would take strict action against the absent staff.