Allegation of misappropriating at around Tk 1,500 cr
Golam Mostafa Jibon: The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has started an investigation against Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Additional Chief Engineer of Dhaka WASA for embezzling large sums of money through massive corruption and irregularities in three projects. He was also Project Director (PD) of three projects at different times.
ACC has launched the investigation into the allegation of misappropriating at around Tk 1,500 crore in the three projects. Of the irregularities, supply of low quality pipes in the Padma Jashaldia project, installation of WASA pumps in Rampura and Kamalapur, realizing large amount of bribe against a project, illegally hiring contractors in the DWSNIP project and embezzling money in Gulshan-Baridhara project are mentionable. ACC has taken decision to investigate into the matter after receiving numerous allegations of misappropriating the association’s money. Ali Akbar, Deputy Director of ACC was given the charge of investigation into the matter, a reliable source said.
Quoting the complainant, ACC officials said, Akhtaruzzaman got involved with financial irregularities by importing substandard pipes without tender and vetting for Dhaka WASA’s Padma Jashaldia water treatment plant project worth at around Tk 3,800 crore.
The engineer also abused Tk 100 crore allocated for casing pipes at the bottom of the river and Tk 400 crore for the Rampura-Kamalapur water pump project. He also embezzled money without completing the project even though he was supposed to set up two water pumps at Rampura and Kamalapur at a cost of Tk 400 crore to solve the water shortage problem in the capital.
Dhaka WASA undertook the Dhaka Water Supply Network Improvement Project (DWSNIP) in 2017 to improve the water supply system in the city. After inviting tenders for the project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at a cost of about Tk 400 crore, 10 companies took part in it. Later, four out of 10 institutions were selected for technical evaluation.
After the approval of the Technical Evaluation Committee, proposal was submitted by Hubai Industrial Construction Company (HICC) at Tk 291.70 crore, China and CSADI jointly at Tk 294.51 crore, CCSEB and a Bangladeshi company jointly at Tk 331.15 crore and China Engineering Corporation at Tk 364.70 crore.
The lowest bidder was HICC. It became the lowest bidder with a bid of Tk 291.70 crore and CCSEB was the third company with a price of Tk 331.15 crore. But, CCSEB got the work order due to the personal interest of this engineer related to WASA. Due to giving work to the CCSEB, the government lost at least Tk 40 crore.
It was mentioned in the complaint that, the revenue of Dhaka WASA was collected mainly through the Employees Multipurpose Cooperative Society. Engineer Akhtaruzzaman was chairman there. About Tk 445 crore of the society was misused during his tenure. Leaders of the Dhaka WASA Shramik Union brought massive allegation against him over the issue through a press conference held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity recently.
According to a report of Dhaka WASA Shramik Union, there is no account of around Tk 132.4 crore of 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years, while he was in charge there.
WASA had taken a project worth at around Tk 50 crore to prevent pollution of Gulshan-Baridhara Lake. But, even though the cost of this Tk 50 crore was shown in the paper, in reality it did not bring any benefit. In this regard, the Parliamentary Committee on the Ministry of Local Government of the 10th National Assembly asked to know why it was not successful even after spending money. After investigation from the local government department, a letter was sent to WASA recommending for filing a departmental case against the person concerned for the financial loss of the government. But instead of taking punitive action against the engineer, in contrary he was promoted and appointed as PD of different important projects, the complainant said.
When this correspondent tried to contact with Akhtaruzzaman yesterday over cell phone, he could not be reached.
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