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Corruption in 10-High school construction project: Part 5

A dilapidated single-storey building costs Tk 6 crore!

Published : 17 Dec 2019 08:44 PM | Updated : 06 Sep 2020 09:00 PM

Another attempt of massive corruption in the ongoing 10 new government high schools project in preferential areas of Dhaka city and adjacent districts has been unearthed. This time, some corrupt officials of the project led by the Project Director in association with other greedy officials of the education ministry and Dhaka DC office, are allegedly trying to embezzle huge amount of money dodging the government, alleged concerned sources.

Sources said the PD on accomplice with ministry officials are showing a barren low land as homestead lands (Viti mati) whereas major portions of the land loe submerged under water during most of the time of a year. During a spot visit at the site at Satarkool area near Badda in the capital, this correspondent found that there are no trees in the proposed site.

Instead, there is a very small and completely abandoned one-storied building at one part of the two acres of land. A local farmer cultivates vegetables in some parts of the site. But major parts of the site are extremely low land. New visitors will consider the lower part of the land as a deep lake. There is also a huge amount of government owned Khash land near the site.

If the Khash land was acquired for establishment of the school, there would be no chance of corruption in land dealing. The syndicate of PD and government officials had prepared an estimated price of the lands describing all portion of the land as homestead lands. They also claimed that there are numbers of highly valuable trees and infrastructures in the site.

It has been learnt that in the approved Development Project Proposal (DPP), a school was proposed in Shahajadpur area or in Norer Chala area in the capital. Additional Secretary of the Education Ministry Mohiuddin Khan also primarily chose two comparatively better sites for constructing the school. But after the transfer of the additional secretary, PD Amirul also changed the site in association with some greedy officials.

He chose a new site in Satarkool area, which is very near to an old and reputed high school. A Tk 36,02,83,200 (Tk thirty six crore two lakh eighty three thousand and two hundred ) was primarily calculated for the two acres of land. But surprisingly Tk 6 crore was primarily calculated for the infrastructures. However, there was no structures on the land, except very small and abandoned land.

Proposed estimate for acquisition of 12 acres land was Tk 604,49,74,944 ( Six hundred four crore forty nine lakh seventy four thousand nine hundred forty four) by DC Dhaka office. The proposal estimate was signed by then Land Acquisition Officer of Dhaka District Jooti Prue. A signed copy of the probable estimate was also collected by The Bangladesh Post.

This probable estimate was prepared at the request of the ten new high schools establishment project in a bid to raise the land acquisition cost to Tk 750.50 crore in the Revised Development Project Proposal (RDPP), sources said. When contacted, Jooti Prue admitted that he had signed the probable estimate when he was holding the post. He said that he is not currently looking into the issue.

However, he claimed that this estimate is not final at all. Before finalizing the acquisition, officials from various government departments will make field visits to the sites to prepare a joint inventory. In the Development Project Proposal (DPD), the total cost of the project was Tk 673.46 crore. Tk 200 crore was allocated for the acquisition of twenty acres of land. But in order to embezzle major fund of the project, a corrupt syndicate is desperately trying to send a Revised Development Project Proposal (RDPP) to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for allocating Tk 1,124 crore.
Project insiders alleged that most of the corruption will occur in the land acquisition process.

The Project Director (PD) of 10 new government high schools in preferential areas of Dhaka city and adjacent districts is Dr Md Amirul Islam, the PD, a 20th BCS Education cadre officer, and currently an associate professor-5th grade. The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education under the Secondary and Higher Education Division of the Ministry of Education is implementing the project from July 2017. Even though a maximum of two percent of the project work has so far been completed, the PD along with his corrupt syndicate has become desperate to increase the cost to 1,124 crore.

This correspondent on Sunday called Amirul Islam over phone. He claimed that estimated price of the proposed land is the issue of the DC office.
“I am not involved with the matter”, he claimed.
(This the fifth part of a series report)