The Bangla daily Prothom Alo on April 17 reported how two projects undertaken to supply gas to five districts, costing Tk 1,200 crore, have been a complete waste of public money. In the last 14 years, the districts, including Khulna and Jashore, have not only not received any gas supply, but it appears now that there is no chance of the project being utilised anytime in the immediate future either. To top it off, it appears that the projects were undertaken knowing fully well that the gas in the source of these pipelines was inadequate for supply to all five districts.
Four consecutive governments have worked on these projects. In 2017, a report of the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division stated that undertaking the infeasible project was irresponsible. Last year, a Petrobangla investigation found that the money spent has yielded absolutely no returns, while accruing large interests on the ADB loan which funded the project. The report also pointed towards names of those responsible from the project implementation organisation. As yet, no action has been taken against anyone.
Of course, no one is willing to take responsibility. The report cited that most people contacted claimed that it was not their responsibility in the first place. On the other hand, all indications point towards prior knowledge of infeasibility. Why was the project approved in the first place then? This is a case of utter negligence. Was it political expedience that led to continuing the project despite the fact that it was doomed to failure? Or did someone stand to profit? Public projects are only as good as the benefit they bring to people; this project not only failed in that aspect, but also incurred a cost going into thousands of crores of taka.
We hope that the ministry acts on the investigation report to hold those responsible accountable. But more importantly, our administration needs to take a deeper look at our failures in project implementation—from delays, increasing costs, and now, completion without any benefit.