The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will file cases against 41 people, including the joint secretary of the water resources ministry, a host of officials of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and contractors for alleged irregularities in the construction of crop protection embankments in the haor areas in Sunamganj and Sylhet.
After an inquiry into the allegation of irregularities, an ACC probe body submitted a report to the anti-graft body recommending for filing the cases against persons believed to be involved in corruption in the haor embankment projects.
As many as 19 officials of the ministry and BWDB and 22 contractors and third-party firms will be made accused in the cases filed under section 5 (2) of Corruption Prevention Act-1947 and under sections 109, 511 and 409 of the Penal Code.
The five-member probe team led by the anti-graft watchdog’s director Belal Hossen submitted the probe report to ACC director general (investigation) Muhammad Munir Chowdhury last week.
During the inquiry, the probe body found substantial proof of irregularities and corruption in the construction of the embankment, causing damage to crops and livestock during flash floods, the sources said.
ACC Secretary Abu Md Mustafa Kamal told daily sun, “Cases will be filed against the persons involved in irregularities after getting approval from the ACC”. “We will handle the matter seriously as they caused serious harm to the haor people,” he added.
The 19 officials include Kalilur Rahman, joint secretary of water resources ministry, BWDB Director General Jahangir Kabir, Chief Engineer of Sylhet division Abdul Hai, Superintend Engineer Harunur Rashid, Executive Engineer of Sunamganj BWDB Afsar Uddin.
Four sub-divisional engineers of Sunamganj WDB---Khalilur Rahman, Ranjan Kumar Das, Anik Sarker and Linkon Sarker---and ten sub-assistant engineers of Sunamganj BWDB----Sajib Paul, Rafiqul Islam, Md Shah Alam, Khandaker Ali Reza, NiharRanjan Das, Imran Sarker, Md Mahmudul Karim, Ibrahim Khalilullah Khan, Md Mosaddek and Md Shahidullah are also in the list.
ACC also recommended for filing cases against 22 contractors and representatives of private firms involved in the construction of 38 embankments in the haor area of Sunamganj and Sylhet.They include Md Shamim Ahasan, Kazi Nasim Uddin, Md Atikur Rahman, Sheikh Ashraf Uddin, Sajib Ranjon Das, Akbar Ali, Kamal Hossen and Reno Mia.
The builders are M/S Shoeb Enterprise, M/S Maloti Enterprise, M/S Ibrahim Traders, M/S Bonus International, M/S Prity Enterprise, M/S Goodman Enterprise, M/S Nimmi and Momo Construction, M/S Hannan Enterprise, Nur Trading, Younus and Brothers, Mahin Construction, M/S Khandaker Shahin Ahmed, Tecbay Inrernational, Bashu Nirman Sangstha, Niaz Traders, Mam Construction, Saikat Construction LN Construction, M/S Ibrahim Traders and Nuna Traders.
The ACC, on April 21 last year, sent a letter to the Water Resources Ministry asking it to send an investigation report on the allegations of corruption in haor embankment projects within ten working days. But not attaching much importance to the request, the ministry sent its reply to the ACC 10 months later in February this year, ACC officials said.
There are also allegations that Joint Secretary Khalilur Rahman blocked the reply to the ACC out of personal interests.
According to the inquiry report, there had been widespread corruption in the embankment projects as the contractors didn’t follow the design and made delays in completing the task. They showed cent percent completion of the work in papers though the actual progress was 55-60 percent.
The five-member ACC probe body also noted that there have been some grave irregularities in the selection of the contractors.
After analysing different project documents of 38 embankments in Sunamganj, the inquiry team found that the officials didn’t follow rules and regulations while awarding 160 work orders to build the embankments.
The total budget was Tk 101 crore for construction of the 1,522-kilometer embankment in the haor area. But the persons involved in the irregularities embezzled huge funds from the state coffer in collaboration with each other. Nine contractors even got their payments released without doing any work with the help of some BWDB officials.
The ACC investigation also found that two contractors did not complete their works in 2016, but they were once again selected for another project. The ministry directed for taking departmental action against a BWDB engineer, but the order was not implemented.
Earlier on May 4, An ACC team quizzed BWDB Director General Jahangir Kabir, Additional Director General Abdul Hye Baki, Superintending Engineer Harunur Rashid, and joint secretary Khalilur Rahman at the ACC’s office.
During the quizzing, the three top officials confessed their negligence in the construction of embankments of haor regions that gave away and caused floods in the low-lying areas. After the interrogation, ACC Director General Md Munir Chowdhury said, “They all admitted to negligence and irregularities in construction of the embankment and they failed to implement the projects properly.”
The recent flash floods washed away crops on thousands of hectares of land in the haor areas of Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Habiganj, Kishoreganj, Netrakona and Brahmanbaria.
There are allegations that BWDB engineers showed sheer negligence in their duties and indulged in corruption while constructing and reconstructing the embankments. Many of the dams breached during the recent flash floods, damaging huge crops and fish in the areas.