Duration and cost increasing
Staff Correspondent: There is a slowdown in the expansion of cotton cultivation projects. The Planning Commission has repeatedly raised questions about project revisions and term extensions. Even after almost 5 years, the actual progress is 87 percent and the cumulative expenditure of the project till June last year has been Tk 110.56 crore. Now the term is increasing again. The latest deadline was to end in December 2021. But as it did not end there, the Planning Commission has proposed to extend the term till June 2023.
The picture prevailing in the ‘Extended Cotton Cultivation Phase-I’ project. The Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) meeting was held on June 21. Questions were raised on various issues. AKM Fazlul Haque, Member (Secretary) of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Institutions Department of Planning Commission presided over that meeting. Several officers of the Planning Commission told Daily Industry that the meeting has been urged to complete the project on time.
The project activities are to establish 10,590 (one bigha each) cotton demonstration plots and 1,400 block demonstration plots. Under the project, 450 hectares of land are being produced with American quality seeds or certified quality seeds through contract farmers. Inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation etc.) are being provided free of cost to contract farmers for seed production cost. Besides, to supply quality seeds to the farmers, foundation seeds will be produced in 5 research farms of Cotton Development Board on 130 hectares of land. 4 thousand 45 local trainings and study tours, motivational tours and exchange visits to cotton producing countries will be conducted for 70 Cotton Development Board officers, extension workers or scientific assistants and selected farmers to increase their cotton cultivation skills. To repair the Cotton Development Board’s own infrastructure, boundary walls and roads, machinery, office buildings, residential buildings and irrigation infrastructure. Purchase of 11 cars, 130 motorcycles and machinery and equipment and 8 thousand 250 square meter office building, 1 thousand 452 square meter godown 6 thousand 620 running meter boundary wall gates, sheds etc. will be constructed with irrigation and drainage infrastructure.
Project II causes inter-agency cost coordination
Under Expanded Cotton Cultivation Project (Phase-1) administrative approval of Tk 3 crore 71 lakh 20 thousand was given for the construction of Meherpur Cotton Unit office cum godown building of Cotton Development Board in the financial year 2017-18. For this reason, the Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, Meherpur office cum godown building was given a contract price of Tk 3 crore in EGP and paid Tk 1.94 crore to the contractor in the financial year 2018-19. Mehrpur Public Works Department sent the remaining demand of Tk 1 crore 5 lakh 32 thousand. Accordingly, in the second amendment of the project, a resource of Tk 1 crore 5 lakh 32 thousand is kept.
It was said in the meeting, later the Public Works Department, Meherpur sent an additional demand of Tk 33 lakh 85 thousand regarding the variation in memorandum No. 3147 dated 28 June 2020. The contract price increased to Tk 3 crore 33 lakh 22 thousand. On the other hand, in the financial year 2018-19 Tk 1 crore 94 lakh 5 thousand, in the financial year 2019-20 Tk 65 lakh 41 thousand and in the financial year 2020-21 Tk 50 lakh 20 thousand, a total of Tk 3 crore 9 lakh 66 thousand has been paid. Currently, they have a total outstanding of Tk 28 lakh 47 thousand including Tk 23 lakh 56 thousand and other expenses.
The 12th PSC meeting on December 27, 2021 and the DPEC meeting on January 31 last year verified the accuracy of the variation of the expanded cotton cultivation project and directed to take further necessary action. According to the instructions, a three-member committee was formed with Deputy Director, Deputy Director of Jessore Cotton Development Board as President and Executive Engineer of Public Works Department as Member Secretary and Senior Meherpur LGED Assistant Engineer as members. According to the report of the constituted committee, the building was handed over on September 23, 2020 and is currently being used by the Cotton Development Board. Also, the variation has been approved by the technical authority. Verification of variation work at construction site. However, due to not adding an AC in the variation work, the variation price has been reduced by Tk 79 lakh from its original value and recommended to pay Tk 22 lakh 77 thousand. Therefore, it was said in the meeting that DPP II inter-departmental expenditure adjustment is necessary for payment of Tk 22 lakh 77 thousand due for variation and Tk 4 lakh 91 thousand including paper bill, digital survey bill, soil test bill and stationery bill.
DPP currently has a resource of Tk 4.42 crore in this sector, out of which Tk 5 lakh 22 thousand is unspent after expenditure. For this reason, a provision of Tk 4 crore 64 lakh 46 thousand has been proposed by adjusting the DPP inter-account expenditure to pay the arrears of Tk 27 lakh 68 thousand.
Opinion of Planning Commission
While giving its opinion in the PEC meeting, the Planning Commission said that the project was started in July 2014. First amendment on 6 May 2018 and second amendment on 2 December 2019 and extension on 11 October 2021 without cost increase. Recently, the first inter-organizational expenditure adjustment was made on May 31 last year. After so many project revisions, extensions and inter-organ expenditure adjustments, the accuracy of the second inter-organ expenditure adjustment needs to be asked.
It is further said that the project will be coordinated from CDB, Regional, Zonal office construction, fiber testing laboratory inspection room, other office buildings etc. Tk 22 lakh 46 thousand cotton unit office cum godown construction (Meherpur) office. In this case, it can be discussed whether the construction work of CDB, Regional Office will be done according to the prescribed design of the Development Project Proposal (DPP).
During the second amendment, the construction of cotton unit office cum godown was fixed from Tk 3 crore 92 lakh to Tk 4 crore 42 lakh. In the second inter-sector expenditure adjustment, the same body has again increased the inter-sector expenditure by increasing Tk 22 lakh 46 thousand. The Planning Commission has also said that it is necessary to seek an explanation from the organization in this regard.
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