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Corruption in 10-High school construction project: Part 6

Tk 13 cr for 21 coconut trees!

Published : 18 Dec 2019 10:03 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 03:29 PM

There are no structures at the proposed site of two-acre land in city’s outskirts Hemayetpur for establishing a government high school. But some government officials are allegedly trying to prepare a bill of Tk 13 crore already claiming to have infrastructures. During a visit to the site at Bilamalia area of Hemayetpur under Savar Upazila of Dhaka district, this correspondent found there only twenty-one coconut trees on the land proposed for the school.   

According to the sources, a bill of Tk 13 crore was primarily prepared for the so-called imaginary infrastructures at the two-acer land. Dr Md Amirul Islam is the Project Director (PD) of the 10 new government high schools in peripheral areas of Dhaka city and adjacent districts. He is currently a grade 5 associate professor.

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.

An inter-ministerial committee was formed to select the land for the site. Four sites were also primarily selected. Additional Secretary of the Education Ministry Mohiuddin Khan himself visited the land. But the PD for reasons unknown proposed selecting a different site for the schools. Around half of the land is crop land and another half portion of the land is pond.  But in the proposed bill, the same price rate of the pond was also calculated.

The price of the proposed two-acres of land was calculated at around Tk 81 crore 82 lakh for located at Bilamalia area in Savar. The price was calculated including paying compensation to the land owners. Local sources said the land prices was also calculated much higher than market prices in a bid to embezzle government funds in association with the land owners.  

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 corruption will occur in the land acquisition process. In the DPP, Tk 400 crore was allocated for 20 acres of land acquisition for ten new high schools. But in the RDPP, around  Tk 750.50 crore was proposed for the same amount of land for the same numbers 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. A signed copy of the probable estimate was also obtained by Bangladesh Post. This probable estimate was prepared at the request of the ten new high school establishment project in a bid to raise the land acquisition prices to Tk 750.50 crore in the RDPP, sources said.

When contacted, Jooti Prue admitted that he had signed the probable estimate when he was serving in that position. He said that he is not currently engaged in any affairs of the project any more. 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.

When contracted, PD of the project Dr Md Amirul Islam said, “The estimated prices are not final at all. The education ministry is revising the prices.” About the Tk 13 crore bill for twenty-one coconut trees, he said, “If there are no infrastructures, these money will remain unspent.”