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Bangladesh - July 12, 2021

Stern action if corruption evidence finds: Farhad

Construction of houses given by PM as gift

Farhad Hossain, State Minister for the Ministry of Public Administration said, “Stern action would be taken, if the evidences of corruptions and irregularities are found over the construction of houses given by the government to the homeless people on behalf of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as gift on the occasion of Mujib Year. The minister came up with the remarks, while giving an exclusive interview to the Daily Industry over the issue. The interview was taken by Rabiul Haque

Daily Industry: Many of the houses built for the distressed people on the occasion of Mujib centenary have been collapsed due to use of poor quality construction materials. There have been developed huge numbers of cracks at different houses. Living in such cracked houses has become cause of risk. Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) were also involved with the construction of these houses. What do you want to say about it?
Farhad Hossain: The main problem was insufficient money that was allocated for the construction of a house with two bedrooms, a store room, kitchen and toilet for each destitute family. Though, the amount was increased to Tk 2 lakh next time. The prices of the all products have gone up in the market in the current period. It is not possible to build a very good house with the budget as most of the construction materials have gone up alongside the necessary commodities. As a result, it was very difficult to provide good materials to the home as per expectation.
With the aim of making homeless people able to live in their own homes, the Prime Minister announced to provide homes to around 9 lakh homeless people. It was a great decision of the Prime Minister. In the first phase, Tk 1 lakh was allocated against each house. Then the allocation has been increased with a view to make the houses little bigger than earlier. But now, we are getting huge allegation of corruption and anomalies in constructing the houses. This is why, are investigating into the incident very carefully.
Daily Industry: What did you find in the investigation?
Farhad Hossain: We have launched the investigation. During the investigation, we have found that some houses have been collapsed. All the houses are being damaged; the matter is not like that. Some 2 to 5 percent of the houses have been damaged due to several reasons. However, necessary steps would be taken after completion of proper investigation.
I have already told you that, the prices of all goods have gone up abnormally due to the corona pandemic. Abnormally price hike of construction materials is the main reason behind the low-quality of construction work in the houses.
It is also mentionable that the people’s representatives were not involved with the work. I believed that, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), who were involved with the supervision of the works are responsible for all of it. They had responsibility to take special care of it as the project was taken as the gift the Prime Minister.
Daily Industry: You said that the concerned people did it carefully. But how the error or anomalies are now coming forwards?
Farhad Hossain: First of all, I have mentioned the shortage of money. This seems to be a major problem. Due to this, the allocation was further increased. Another issue has come to the fore that is to test the soil before building any house. In this case, it was not done. These houses were constructed on the government khas land, river bank or low laying land after filling up sands. The soil was not well hardened or kept for long. Severe collapse is being noticed in the newly filled up soil soon after a little rain. Therefore, most of the houses are being damaged making unfit for living.
Besides, the houses were made without column of rod and cement. The houses were built with brick masonry. Consequently, cracks have been developed easily on it.
The Prime Minister seems to solve the problem by increasing fund or budget. The Prime Minister wants to see that everyone can lead a quality life. It was also dream of Bangabandhu. But now, it is being implemented by his daughter Sheikh Hasina. A home means an address. People, who had no addresses, are now getting houses and addresses. Their children will also be able to survive with their own address and land. Problems that have arisen now, will be resolved within short time.
He also added that, the reports, I saw in the newspaper did not say the reason of collapse for the low-quality bricks or cement. Basically, the soil has breached developing cracks to the houses. The project was taken with a completion deadline for a year. In the meantime, corona pandemic has shattered everything. Now, the monsoon has brought another hit.
Daily Industry: The reasons you mentioned, can the government resolved it?
Farhad Hossain: The government is looking for a solution. It will be solved from experience. I have already given some suggestions to the UNOs, who are serving in my constituency in Meherpur. I have suggested them to buy all the Corrugated Iron Sheets (Tin) from one place in which they get those in a cheaper rate. If the policy is taken, it will save some money. Besides, Kushtia-Meherpur region is higher than many other regions. Consequently, the flood water can’t inundate the area.
Daily Industry: A house of gift has been collapsed in Gazaria of Munshiganj. Do you know that many houses like the house of Gazaria are being damaged from a little rain? What do you want to say about it?
Farhad Hossain: I am now personally handling the issues. Consequently, I feel a pressure to rebuild the houses for the sake of people.
Daily Industry: Poor people are getting houses, it was great news. But, it has now breaking news for the people including the government as the houses given by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are facing breaches due to poor quality and lack of proper monitoring. What do you think about it?
Farhad Hossain: All the houses have been collapsed, the matter is not like so. Few houses have been collapsed, while some others are under threat of collapse. However, we will take necessary steps in this regard after completion of investigation.
Daily Industry: How many people will get the houses as gift of the Prime Minister?
Farhad Hossain: Eight to nine lakh people are getting houses on the occasion of Mujib Year.
Daily Industry: Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) are involved in house construction. What kind of action may be taken from your ministry?
Farhad Hossain: It would not be right to say anything before the investigation. I can say that if there is evidence of corruption in the construction of houses, appropriate action would be taken. In the preliminary stage, it has been identified that there was a problem of budget. But, it has now been increased considering it’s a new project.

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