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Dhaka Tribune

Anger mounts over graft in Lakshmipur ‘Bir Nibash’ project 

  • Many of the families are forced to stay in the kitchens
  • The contractor using substandard bricks and less cement, alleged the family concerned
  • Tk43,710,000 allocated for the 31 homes in the 2021-22  fiscal year
Update : 12 Mar 2024, 09:33 AM

Despite the construction of 31 houses for freedom fighters under the ‘Bir Ninash’ project in Lakshmipur’s Raipur Upazila starting two years ago, they are yet to be completed, allegedly due to massive irregularities by those involved in the process. 

Other than the delay, the contractors tasked with the project are accused of not only using fewer construction materials but also substandard tools. 

Instead of benefiting from the project, the families of the war heroes in different villages of the upazila are reportedly supplying cement, sand, and soil for the project. 

Many of the families are forced to stay in the kitchens. 

This correspondent discovered the miseries visiting the under-construction “Bir Nibar” homes in Dakshin Char Bangshi, Uttar Char Ababil, Raipur, and Bamni union parishads (UP) recently.

Fallen freedom fighter Haris Mahmud’s widow, Shahara Parvin, said the families of the liberation war heroes would seek the prime minister’s intervention in this regard. 

Sources at the Upazila Project Implementation Office and Social Services Office said the government in the 2021-22 fiscal year allocated Tk43,710,000 for the 31 homes.

It translates into Tk1,410,000 for every home. Later on, a tender was floated. Five contractors were selected for the job. They are Jahangir Hossain, Shafiqur Rahman Khan, Md Dalim, Alamgir Hossain and Md Arju.

The sufferings

Under Dakshin Char Bangshi UP, a home is being built in the Char Kachhia village. 

The contractor is using substandard bricks and less cement, alleged the family concerned. 

Similar allegations have surfaced in Bamni UP’s Kapilatuli village, where freedom fighter Taslim Uddin said: “They’ve been building my home for the last two years. The construction has been suspended for a month now.”

In the adjoining village, the family of martyred freedom fighter Abdul Khaleq also made similar complaints. 

“We’re looking for the contractor. He’s not even reachable on the phone,” said one of the family members anonymously. 

Char Kachhia village resident and day labourer Khokon Mollah, who is the son of fallen war hero Ali Hossain Mollah, said: “The contractor works whimsically. He doesn’t even visit the site regularly. To have our home built strongly, I contributed several sacks of cement and sand. I wish the contractor would regularly monitor the construction.”

Uttar Char Ababil UP’s Shahara Parvin, the widow of freedom fighter Haris Mahmud, said the contractor last visited the family six months earlier. 

“The construction is still left in the middle. We've not even been given any papers for the home,” she said. 

“We’re forced to reside in a dilapidated house. I repeatedly reported this to the government offices concerned, but to no avail,” she added.

Freedom fighter Shafi Ullah’s son Liton of Debipur village in Raipur UP, said he invested Tk100,000 for the house despite the government allocation as substandard materials were used in their home. 

“Construction is still going on,” he said, adding: “I’ll write to the prime minister about our sufferings and the anomalies.”

What contractors, officials say

Contractor Shafiqur said the prices of construction materials are higher than the budget granted.  

“I’m almost done with the six homes assigned to me. The construction will end soon,” he hoped. 

Brushing aside the allegation of graft, contractors Jahangir and Arju said they are not getting bills from the government on time. 

The two other contractors -- Alamgir and Dalim -- could not be reached for their comments. 

Raipur Upazila Muktijoddha Command Council’s former leader and freedom fighter, GM Mohsin Reza, said the council was aware of the matter too.

“The UNO has already ordered the immediate implementation of the project,” he said.

When contacted, Upazila Project Implementation Officer Ashiqur Rahman said proper action would be taken against irregularities through an investigation. 

UNO Nazma Binte Amin said: “I’ve ordered the contractors to complete the project soon.” 

Lakshmipur-2 lawmaker Nur Uddin Chowdhury Noyon said: “I’ve learned about the matter, which will be addressed soon.”

The government in late 2021 decided to construct 30,000 “Bir Nibash” homes throughout the country as part of providing housing facilities for all insolvent freedom fighters. 

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