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Corruption at Nawabganj upazila health complex: Head official charged for embezzling Tk7 lakh

  • Published at 12:20 am November 17th, 2019
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Map of Dinajpur district Dhaka Tribune

According to Nawabganj Upazila Health Complex and upazila bookkeeping offices, Tk2 lakh was allocated for five tables, four footstools and a secretary table

Allegations of corruption have surfaced against the health and family planning official of Nawabganj Upazila Health Complex in Dinajpur.

Dr Khairul Islam who heads the health complex has been accused of embezzling Tk7 lakh from government allocated funds for purchasing medicines, equipments, dengue health kits, and cleaning services.

According to Nawabganj Upazila Health Complex and upazila bookkeeping offices, Tk2 lakh was allocated for five tables, four footstools and a secretary table.

Dr Khairul allegedly withdrew the money by submitting vouchers from one Messrs Bidyut Traders in Hakimpur upazila which showed the cost of each regular table as Tk25,000, while the secretary table as Tk75,000.

However, the owner of Messrs Bidyut Traders, Md Shafiqul Islam, said he did not supply any furniture to the upazila health complex. 

Meanwhile, Belal Hosain, a furniture store owner in front of the hospital, said: “Dr Khairul Islam bought five tables from my shop on October 19, each worth Tk2,200 and four footstools worth Tk1,200 each.”

On Sept 1, Khairul allegedly withdrew Tk1,66,000 from the Tk2 lakh allocated to the health complex during the dengue outbreak.

He withdrew the money by submitting purchase vouchers of over 250 dengue kits in three phases between September 1 and September 5 from Incepta Pharmaceuticals as well as six purchase vouchers for medicines.

Local Incepta Pharmaceutical’s salesperson Gouranga Roy said that their company neither produced nor supplied dengue kits.

Saying that he did supply medicines like paracetamols and salines worth Tk97,000 in two vouchers, he added, “The upazila health officer made me sign additional seven blank vouchers saying he had to withdraw bills.”

Several employees of the complex wishing to remain anonymous said during the 2018-19 fiscal year, Tk5.2 lakh was allocated for cleaning purposes.

Of the total amount, Khairul used it to pay off Tk88,400 in taxes and VATs and other miscellaneous bills.

From the remaining money, he only paid Tk68,000 to the cleaning company and during the dengue outbreak in August, he spent Tk18,000 to clean the compound and Tk3,000 to clean the water tanks. No other expenses were made from the allotted money.

On Feb 7, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) allocated Tk72,000 for purchase of medical equipment.

Three vouchers from Rubina Pharmacy in Birampur upazila showed purchase of 120 BP machines. A spot visit to the area showed that the pharmacy does not exist.

The health complex’s acting store keeper Noor-e-Alam Siddiqui and Medical Technologists Mahmud Sharif complained that the dengue kits and BP machines were not submitted to them and Khairul forced them to sign the ledger.

The same year the DGHS allocated Tk1,77,000 for medicine for the sub-centres and community clinics. Khairul allegedly withdrew nearly Tk25,000 each against three sub-centres and three community clinics.

Aftabganj sub-centre Deputy Community Medical Officer Md Tozammel Hoque and Daudpur’s Dilbar Hossain said that they didn’t receive any medicines.

They said that Khairul allegedly pressured them into signing blank papers but they didn’t comply.

Two officers of the community clinics said that they didn’t get any medicines but received Tk10,000 in cash each, but they were each forced to sign vouchers worth nearly Tk25,000.

In addition to being involved in rampant corruption, Khairul reportedly misbehaved with the nurses and staff and threatened anyone who didn’t comply with his illegal orders.

Khairul Islam took charge of the Nawabganj Upazila Health Complex in September last year and although he is supposed to pay Tk13,800 for rent, according to health complex records, he has been paying only Tk1,380 for the rent of one seat. Moreover, his living quarter has an air conditioner.

Responding to queries, Khairul told Bangla Tribune that he was completely new at the job.

“I’ve never been in charge of a health complex. Hence, I did everything as per the advice of the higher authorities and the health complex’s office secretary Samar Kumar Dev,” he said.

Although he declined misbehaving with the nurses, he hasn’t been able to give proper answers for queries on the tables and dengue kits.

On the air conditioner in his home, he said that he brought it from the hospital at the request of hospital staff.

Meanwhile, Office Secretary Samar Kumar said that he hasn’t given Khairul advice for any illegal activity and he himself was pressured into doing illegal work.

“Dr Khairul told me that once the bills were cashed, that’s when the medicines will be purchased. I don’t know if any purchases were made,” he said.

Dinajpur Civil Surgeon Dr Abdul Kuddus said a probe panel will be formed to look into the allegations against Khairul and measures will be initiated likewise.