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Corruption in 10-High school construction project

Edn ministry acts against corruption suspect

Published : 04 Aug 2021 10:29 PM | Updated : 05 Aug 2021 01:14 AM

Finally, the education ministry on Monday decided to file departmental cases against an influential officer of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) in connection with her alleged involvement in massive irregularities and corruption in the much talked project titled  the 10 new government high schools in surrounding areas of Dhaka city and adjacent districts .

According to the highly credible sources, on August 2, Md Mahbub Hossain, Secretary of Secondary and Higher Education Division of the Education Ministry, signed the order to lodge the case against Assistant Professor Dil Afroz Binte Ashir, currently working in the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE).

Bangladesh Post correspondent also obtained a copy of the order.

Talking to Bangladesh Post, Awal Khan, an Administrative Officer of the Education Ministry, also admitted it on Wednesday.

As the member secretary of the much talked  about project, she increased  Tk 400 crores  with her ‘ill-motive and desire of committing corruption’, it was alleged.

Though there were no existences of any big trees and infrastructures in the project sites of building of six government high schools, the cost of   Tk 100 crore was increased. Besides Tk 24,47,00,000 was increased in the Revised  Development Project Proposal (RDDP) by upgrading the classification of a land in Narayanganj, it was further alleged.

As an assistant director of Planning and Development Wing and Member Secretary of the project, she with her ‘ill-motive and desire of committing corruption’, helped to prepare the Revised Development Project Proposal (RDPP) by including false information.

She also signed all the pages of the RDDP and forwarded it to the higher authority for approval, the letter said.

The allegations were primarily probed in the investigation by the ministry. As a responsible officer, her such acts were in violation of the Government servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 2018.

Following the corruption allegation,   Dil Afroz binte Ashi was not promoted,  sources said. Although 1,084 assistant professors were promoted as associate professors recently, her name was not there.

Bangladesh Post had carried out a eight part series of reports on the alleged massive corruption and irregularities in the project. Later, many other mainstream media outlets also published follow up reports.

 Following the reports, a  high-powered committee was formed by the education ministry. The probe committee primarily found the allegations of corruption and irregularities true.

Dr Md Amirul Islam was the Project Director (PD) of the 10 new government high establishment high schools in surrounding areas of Dhaka city and adjacent districts. Later, he was discharged following allegations of corruption.

About filing such a departmental case against  Dr Amirul,  Administrative Officer Awal  said, the file is currently at a higher table. Such an order against  the PD may also be taken within Sunday, he added.

In the RDDP,    the price of around twenty small trees was estimated at Tk 60 crore and for a few old tins, Tk 6 crore, in the much-talked-about 10-school project. More than Tk 358 crore was proposed as the estimated cost for acquiring just two acres of land for a single high school. 

DSHE under the Secondary and Higher Education Division of the Ministry of Education was implementing the Tk 673 crore project from July 2017.

Even though less than one percent of the project work had so far been completed, the then  PD along with his corrupt syndicate officials had become desperate to increase the cost of the project to Tk 1,124 crore. 

In  the  DPD, the total cost of the project was Tk 673.46 crore. But in order to embezzle major funds of the project, a corrupt syndicate  desperately tried  to send RDPP to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for allocating Tk 1,124 crore. But following the series reports of Bangladesh Post, the attempt was not successful.  Project insiders at that time had alleged that most of the corruption was believed to occur in the land acquisition process. In the DPP, Tk 400 crore was allocated for 20 acres of land acquisition for ten new high school grounds. But in the RDPP, around Tk 750.50 crore was proposed for the same amount of land for the same number of schools. The proposed estimate for acquisition of 12 acres of land was around Tk 604.50 crore. The proposed cost was signed by then Land Acquisition Officer of Dhaka District Jooti Prue.