Houses for poor being built with extorted bricks, money
Akhtaruzzaman Bachchu from Satkhira: Allegation of massive corruption and irregularities has been intensified over the construction of houses under the Shelter Project-2 (Ashrayan Prokolpo-2) in Satkhira district.
The project was undertaken as a gift of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the poor and homeless people in the district on the occasion of the Mujib centenary. According to a written complaint, some 1148 Tin shed houses are being constructed in the first phase of Shelter Centre-2 in seven upazilas of the district. The upazilas included Satkhira Sadar, Kolaroa, Tala, Ashashuni, Shyamnagor, Kaliganj and Debhata. The cost of each house has been fixed at Tk 1.71 lakh, while the total cost of the project has been estimated at around Tk 19.63 crore.
Meanwhile, the construction of some houses has been completed with the direct assistance of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) SM Mostafa Kamal. Key and documents of the houses and lands have already been handed over to some beneficiaries. But, agitation is prevailing among the beneficiaries due to massive irregularities in the project works.
As per schedule, the size of each room has been fixed 394 square foot along with a kitchen, toilet and utility space. The foundation of the room has been set for 10 inch and the wall for five inch.
But, there is complained that, low quality equipments including rods, sands and cement are being used in the construction in which question has been intensified over those standard. The sheds of the houses are being made with substandard timbers instead of scheduled ones.
Locals are apprehending that, the houses may be collapsed any time due to below standard construction works. Besides, the government money is being wasted that will not come to help for the distress people in the area. In the same time, the dream of the Prime Minister will not be fulfilled as per expectation.
Some brick kilns owners of Kolaroa upazila in the district seeking anonymity told The Daily Industry that, a section of officials in collaboration with local UNO have been collected several thousands of bricks forcibly from the kiln owners showing various fears. If someone declines to pay bricks, he was forced to pay Tk 50,000 as extortion. Most of the Project Implementation Officers (PIOs) in the mentioned upazilas are also involved with the anomalies as they get share from the concerned contractors in exchange of giving various illegal opportunities. They withdraw money of the project by submitting various fake bills and vouchers, locals complained.
While contacted, SM Mostafa Kamal, Deputy Commissioner (DC) in Satkhira declined the allegation and said, “We are trying to ensure cent percent transparency in this project so that the poor are highly benefited. I however, have received such an allegation against an UNO and asked an Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC General) to take necessary steps in this regard after a fair investigation.”
“None will be spared, if he or she is proved as guilty,” he added.