The development project of the beautification of Dhopa Dighi in Sylhet city resumed on Wednesday at a sluggish pace, after it was stopped on Sunday allegedly amid pressure from a group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists to buy construction materials from their supplier of choice.
The Dhopa Dighi Area for Better Environment and Beautification project, funded by the Indian government, started in December 2017 and is expected to end by 2020.
The project, at a cost of around Tk 12 crore, includes excavation of the dighi (large pond), walkway around it and a restaurant in the middle.
Some local youths were trying to force the contractor company Dhali Construction Limited to supply stones and sand for the construction; in fear of trouble, the work was hampered from Sunday, said Mahtab Uddin Rajib and Al Mamun, deputy project manager and site engineer respectively of Dhali Construction.
Nur Azizur Rahman, chief engineer of Sylhet City Corporation (SCC), said “Some BCL leaders are forcing the construction company to purchase stone and sand from them, and the project has been slowed down. We believe that they cannot provide quality product at a good price, and if it [being forced to buy materials from a supplier using political influence] is allowed, this would create a bad example for any future development work.”
“We have never faced such situation before, but we are hopeful to resolve the problem by discussing with higher command of the party [Awami League]. Local law enforcers have already been informed about the matter,” he said.
Sylhet district unit of BCL's former sports affairs secretary Rafiqul Islam Rafi said they proposed to supply materials in the name of Sun Construction, and denied forcing to stop the construction.
“We asked them to get quotations of the materials from us, and if we can provide quality materials for good price, why should they buy those from outsiders? We have consulted with our leader and city councillor Azadur Rahman Azad and he will be talking to the authorities,” he said, adding that Sun Construction is owned by their former party colleague Jubayer Khan.
The unit's former joint secretary Jubayer Khan said, “We did not force them to stop the construction work, as we believe it will hamper the development. But we want to supply the materials, even if they need those on credit.”
Azadur Rahman Azad, Sylhet city councillor and education affairs secretary of Sylhet city unit of Awami League, said, “As I was a BCL leader and I am the most active AL man in the city council, all issues regarding BCL are directed to me. SCC chief engineer informed me of the situation as an AL leader and I told him to continue the work. I will protest if anyone tries to take undue benefits claiming to be a BCL leader”.
SCC Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury said, “The work was slowed down as the construction company feared of trouble, but it has resumed. The situation is being brought under control.”