Take immediate step to stop corruption in RNPP

JS watchdog asks ministry

The parliamentary standing committee on science and technology on Tuesday asked the ministry concerned to take necessary measures immediately to stop corruption in the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project.The recommendation was made at the second meeting of the committee at the National Parliament complex with its chairman, AFM Ruhul Haque, in the chair.

Committee members Iqbalur Rahim, Md Habibe Millat, Md Mozaffar Hossain, Shirin Ahmed, Selima Ahmad and Habiba Rahman attended the meeting. Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman also attended the meeting at a special invitation. The parliamentary watchdog expressed grave concern over the corruption allegation centring the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project.

They noted that the government should seriously look into the matter since the construction of the apartments was a small component of the multi-billion dollar mega project. The country’s first nuclear power plant is being constructed at Rooppur in Pabna with more than $12 billion financial and technical assistance from Russia. One of the two reactors is expected to be commissioned in 2023.

“We have discussed the issue widely during meeting. And we have also recommended the Science and Technology taking immediate step in order to curb corruption,” a lawmaker said. The standing committee also asked the science and technology ministry to arrange a meeting with the education ministry in order to encourage students to study science and technology.

Meanwhile, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Executive Engineer Masudul Alam has been withdrawn over allegations of unusual expenditure in purchasing furniture and other household items for the project The government has initiated a probe into ‘abnormal’ high price paid for household articles to furnish apartments in multi-storey buildings under the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project in Pabna.

Following media reports on the alleged corruption, the housing and public works ministry formed two separate investigation panels. The purchase prices of various stuff to furnish the project’s apartments for the officials and employees were unusually higher than the market prices, the media reported. Each pillow, the reports claimed, was bought for Tk 5,957, and its carrying cost from the shop to the building was at Tk 760.

The ministry said, "The tenders were invited through e-GP (e-Government Procurement) to purchase furniture and other household items in six packages for the six buildings that are now under construction.” “The Public Works Department approved the packages, appointed authorised contactor, and estimated purchasing value of Tk 300 million for each package. The ministry has no link to the estimation, approval and appointment in this connection. "

The ministry has instructed a stop to payments to the contractors until the investigation findings are submitted. The purchase price of the household articles as reported in media that went viral in social media looked ‘abnormal’. The Public Works Department purchased the household articles, including electric stove, electric kettle, room cleaners, televisions, refrigerators, pillows and washing machines, for furnishing 966 apartments constructed mainly for the Russian engineers and officials of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project.

Each of the pillows was reportedly purchased for Tk 5,957 and lifted at a cost of Tk 760. An electric stove reportedly cost Tk 7,747 and its lifting cost Tk 6,650. The purchase price of an electric kettle was reportedly Tk 5313 and its lifting cost was Tk 2,945. The Public Works Department purchased a room cleaner for Tk 12,018 and lifted it at a cost of Tk 6,650. An electric iron cost Tk 4,154 and its lifting cost Tk 2,945. A television reportedly cost Tk 86,970 while its lifting cost Tk 7,698. A refrigerator reportedly cost Tk 94,250 and its lifting cost Tk 12,521.

Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman said that the construction and furnishing of the apartments were done by the public works department with the block allocation given from the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project. ‘We gave some requirements ensuring first-class accommodation for Russians engaged in the project,’ he said. Since the Public Works department was responsible for the purchase, the housing and public works ministry would look into it, he said.