Construction of Haor Dykes: ACC to charge 33 with graft
The Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday approved charge sheet against 33 people over the allegations of corruption and irregularities in the construction of haor embankments that aggravated the flash flood situation in the region in March and April 2017.
Among them, 14 are officials of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and 19 are contractors who were involved in the construction and maintenance of the dams, said ACC sources.
They have been shown accused in a case filed in this connection with Sunamganj Model Police Station on July 2, 2017.
The list of accused includes BWDB's Executive Engineer Afsar Uddin, Assistant Engineer Khalilur Rahman and deputy assistant engineers Md Shahidulla, Ibrahim Khalil Ullah Khan, Khandakar Ali Reza, Shah Alam and Md Mosaddek.
However, the names of BWDB's Superintendent Engineer Nurul Islam and Additional Chief Engineer Abdul Hai, who were suspended and made accused in the case earlier, have been dropped from the list, said ACC sources.
Besides, the ACC found involvement of five BWDB officials who were not named earlier in the case. They are Deputy Divisional Engineer Ranjan Kumar Das, assistant engineers Linkon Sarkar and Anik Saha and deputy assistant engineers Imran Hossain and Nihar Ranjan Das.
The charge sheet reads that an ACC investigation found that the accused, being well aware of the timing of flash floods, had not constructed the dams at the right time and misappropriated Tk 8.14 crore of government funds.
“Their negligence and embezzlement had triggered the floods that caused immense loss and suffering to the people of this region,” it added.
The ACC will soon submit the charge sheet before court, sources said.
Between March and April of 2017, thousands of people were affected by the devastating floods in the haor areas of Sunamganj, Netrakona, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Kishoreganj with nearly three lakh people requiring immediate relief from the government and NGOs.
As embankments got damaged badly, more than two lakh hectares of agricultural land were submerged, causing a loss of nearly a million tonnes of Boro crops.
Months after the floods, ACC sued 61 people, including engineers of BWDB and contractors, for purposeful mismanagement and corruption in the construction of dams.
The water resources ministry and the BWDB, however, had all along denied allegation of irregularities. They rather put the blame on excessive rains and rats for the damage of embankments.
But the ACC findings reinforced the media reports that there had been lots of foul play in construction and maintenance of dams, which should have protected six million haor people from flash floods.
In 2011, the BWDB took up a project to ward off inundation and improve drainage system for protecting crops from early floods.
Under the project scheduled to end in 2019, the BWDB has so far built 1,500-km long dams in 36 of the country's 87 haors.