Friday, November 24, 2017

Local MPs, govt officer influenced four climate projects, claims TIB

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-08-23 22:11:49 BdST


Transparency International Bangladesh has alleged that four climate projects of the Bangladesh Water Development Board or BWDB were illegally influenced by politicians, including MPs.

The anti-graft watchdog brought the accusations without mentioning names of the alleged offenders and the projects at a news conference on Wednesday.

“We do not reveal names. We only highlight the irregularities to encourage the offenders to correct themselves,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, the Executive Director of TIB.

TIB picked six ongoing projects of the BWDB for the research. All of them aim to combat effects of climate change.

Out of the six, irregularities were found in four, said TIB executives at the conference titled 'United against Corruption'.

A secretary has illegally made recommendations in one of the projects while another project has been manipulated by a central leader of the ruling Awami League, a relative of a former minister and a local MP, the TIB said.

The two other projects were influenced by two local lawmakers, according to the organisation.

“Bangladesh Water Development Board approved these four projects because they were recommended by the influential figures,” said Golam Mohiuddin, Programme Manager, TIB.

The research aims at finding out the challenges of funds management and recommending ways to overcome them.

It was conducted to review the rules and regulations related to the management of projects that are being implemented with funds for climate change.

“Developed countries question us while lending funds. If we follow the fair path, they will not question our integrity anymore,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.

TIB selected 600 people—all residents of areas where the projects are on—through sampling for the survey.

“The respondents said illegal recommendations were made for four projects. One secretary, one Awami League leader, relative of a former minister, and local MPs made these recommendations.”

Substandard work has been reported from two projects, said Mohiuddin. “The contractors even engaged in clashes with locals when the low quality work was noticed.”

Substandard materials were used in building a dam under one project. The dam has already caved in at some points, he said.

“One contractor has dredged canal but used the mud at a brick kiln that he owns instead for strengthening the dam. He has cut 10-15 trees for a project but sold them at Tk 28,000 per piece and embezzled the money,” Mohiuddin said.

The schedules of none of the projects have been made public, according to TIB.

Mohiuddin further said: “Eighty-nine percent of the participants said they had no clue from where they could get information over the projects. Eight percent said BWDB refused to provide them any.”

Among the participants, 92 percent said they did not know anything about the projects.

“There is no information officer at the local offices of BWDB. No information boards are there for three projects. Two boards contain information about two projects but they were taken down before completion of the project,” Mohiuddin said citing responses gathered through the survey.

“One project includes multiple areas but information board is available in only one office. That also has insufficient data.”

The website of the BWDB contains a list of more than 700 ongoing and finished projects but lacks any separate list of projects related to climate change.

To date, the BWDB has implemented 141 projects worth 40 percent of government’s fund to deal with climate change, he said while presenting the keynote paper.