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Corruption in 10-High school construction project: Part 7

Huge corruption in purchasing land for schools

Exaggerated prices shown to embezzle funds

Published : 22 Dec 2019 09:43 PM | Updated : 15 Feb 2021 02:41 PM
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There are only a few small and temporary tin-shed stalls at a proposed project site for establishing a government high school at Lakuriapara mouja under Dhamrai Upazila in Dhaka district. But the estimated bill of Tk 4 crore has been prepared as part of the cost of buying the 18 temporary stalls.

Another estimated bill of more than Tk 24 crore has also been prepared by the government officials to document the cost of buying only two acres of land for the school. On the contrary to the estimated bill of Tk 24 crore, local people estimate that the total price of the land (2 acres), according to the current market prices, would be around Tk 2 crore.

Sources said major portions of the two acres of the land remain underwater as a big pond which is, of course, not worthy for immediate use. Smaller parts of the land were recently filled with sand cunningly to show the land apparently for school building construction.

In the primary estimate, the entire piece of the two acres of the land was mentioned as a plain land completely avoiding mentioning the pond. In such manner, some of the project officials are allegedly engaged in corruption attempting to misappropriate Tk 24.80 crore.

Sources said that there were no fences in any of these houses. No tree or any other structures were seen in the proposed site.

There is also a high school named Abdus Sobhan Model high School near the proposed site for constructing the building.

However, a committee to select land for establishing school, had primarily selected three other lands at different locations of Garail mouja in Dhamrai Upazila.

Additional Secretary Mohiuddin Khan himself visited these proposed sites. The committee finally had selected two acres of land near the Rabeya Memorial Hospital. An administrative order was also issued in favour of the proposed land.

 But after his transfer, the Project Director defying the office order changed the proposed sites for reasons unknown. Instead, he selected land at Lakuriapara area near Dhulivita Bus stand of Dhamrai.

Dr Md Amirul Islam is the Project Director (PD) of the 10 new government high establishment high schools in surrounding areas of Dhaka city and adjacent districts.

The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education under the Secondary and Higher Education Division of the Ministry of Education is implementing the Tk 673 crore 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 officials have become desperate to increase the cost of the project to Tk 1,124 crore.

In the Development Project Proposal ( 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 is desperately trying to send 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 alleged corruption is in the land acquisition process. In the DPP, Tk 400 crore was allocated for purchasing 20 acres of land for the ten new high schools. But in the RDPP, around Tk 750.50 crore has been proposed for the same amount of land for the same number of schools.

The proposed estimate for the acquisition of 12 acres of land was around Tk 604.50 crore. This probable estimate was prepared at the request of the then-new high school establishment project official in a bid to raise the land acquisition prices to Tk 750.50 crore in the RDPP, sources said. A signed copy of the proposed cost of the land acquisition document was also obtained by this correspondent.

When contacted, Jooti Prue who had signed the proposed land acquisition cost document, admitted that he had signed the probable estimate when he was serving in that position. He said that he is no longer assigned to work for the project. However, he claimed that this estimate is not final at all but a draft. Before finalizing the acquisition, officials from various government departments will make field visits to the sites to verify the actual cost.

When contracted, Dr Md Amirul Islam said, “The estimated prices were prepared by the concerned DC offices. I am not involved in the issues.”

He, however, said the estimated prices are not final at all. The education ministry is revising the prices, he further added.