Who will recover millions of rupees reportedly embezzled by Awaz Foundation ?

MULTAN, June 7th: District Coordination Officer Muzaffargarh Tahir Khurshid Chaudhry ,on public complaints, ordered an inquiry against a NGO into the misappropriation of millions of rupees in the construction of shelters/ homes for the flood hit people of Alipur (Muzaffargarh district. EDO (Community Development) has been assigned this inquiry and submission of his findings so that action could be taken against the NGO "Awaz Foundation  CDS" People of the area told that Awaz Foundation had  to construct 2350  single room shelters/ homes against  Rs.192.7 million and similar number of lavatories against Rs.42.30 million and approach roads . but it developed substandard shelters without granting any N.O.C from PDMA and It had provided toilets with only 1750 shelters/homes and they left 600 homes toilet-less.They allegedly misappropriated the 10.8 million. Similarly, They had installed 235 hand-pumps against Rs.45,000 per pump but these were neither upto the standard nor the water was hygienic and potable.The NGO had got Rs.10.57 million against these hand pumps.People of the area have demanded a high level inquiry into the embezzlement of millions of rupees of donor agencies.The USAID and other donor agencies have urged  upon the government to chalk out a transparent plan in order to bring aid to genuine and deserving people who are shelter-less and starving as they lost their belongings in the devastating floods. Government agencies were already investigating against the alleged embezzlement of funds by a well known NGO "Awaz Foundation" which had  signed Memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Provincial Education department  for the training of the teaching staff on August 15,2008. but City District Government Multan had cancelled this MOU on 08-9-2011  and stopped/ banned all activities of Awaz Foundation forthwith through a letter No.6882/G-1 . International donors had expressed their concern in the past as well over the mechanism of distribution of money to NGOs who were reportedly involved in irregularities involving delivery of funds to the target areas. Now Government has asked the  local and foreign donor agencies to change their criteria of disbursing funds to the NGOs in order to avoid massive frauds and misuse of funds being given in the name of natural disasters. “Though foreign donor agencies complaining about misuse of funds given to various high profile NGOs, the criteria of selection is yet to be changed by donor agencies” said  an official .He said that a number of  NGOs like Awaz foundation  were working in the flood affected areas in  Punjab without getting any permission from the PDMA .It may be mentioned here that United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had recently approached the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), filing complaints of misappropriation of funds by various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). According to officials, a delegation of USAID called upon the NAB chairman and sought his help in investigating corruption, as the number of complaints about misuse of funds by NGOs was on the rise. The Executive District Officer (Community Development) has compiled his report which revealed that After the flood in Muzaffargarh district, Awaz foundation  for the rehabilitation  of flood victims in Tehsil Alipur and Tehsil Kotadu had started work with the funding of different donors under Southern Punjab Livelihood Security Programme(SPLSP), Cash for grant for early recovery of flood victims and Integrated Community Development and Empowerment Programme (ICDEP).It also constructed shelters/homes in Kotadu. The report further revealed that Awaz foundation  is not registered with any department in Muzaffargarh district .It has not yet applied for registration as an NGO with Social Welfare Department, Muzaffargarh.During the course of implementation of its project  many complaints were received  from the member of beneficiary communities regarding corruption, nepotism, favouritism and neglecting the deserving ones.The Organisation neither respond to these complaints nor cooperate with concerned departments .It is not enjoying good reputation  in the community .People have many reservations regarding working of Awaz Foundation.

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