DEVASTATION IN HAOR BELT

Ministry’s probe finds WDB officials, contractors responsible

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:49, Jun 23,2017 | Updated: 00:54, Jun 23,2017

 
 

A high-powered probe body of the water resources ministry has found neglect of responsibilities and lack of coordination among officials concerned in construction and repair of embankments in the haor belt that was devastated by flashflood in late March.
The probe report signed by head of the committee and additional secretary of the ministry Mohammad Ali Khan, on June 8, stated that the water development officials serving in the haor belt for long were responsible for delayed construction and repair of the embankments, which had accelerated onrush of water causing massive damage to the standing corps, particularly in Sunamganj, Habiganj, Kishoreganj and Sylhet.
The report, made public on Thursday, also found the authorities concerned not properly monitoring the implementation of the projects.
‘We have submitted the probe report and now the ministry will decide the next course of action,’ Mohammad Ali, head of the four-member probe body, told New Age.
The ministry formed the probe committee on May 2 after allegations were raised by the affected people that the floodwaters could easily damage the protection dykes as they had not been constructed properly.
The ministry had earlier suspended three engineers of Water Development Board — Md Abdul Hai, Sylhet north-eastern chief engineer, Md Murul Islam, Sylhet
superintendent engineer, and Md Afsar Uddin, Sunamganj executive engineer — over allegations of irregularities in embankment repair projects.
The report mentioned that the immediate suspension of the three officials was right, but it required further investigation during the dry season for taking legal actions against them.
The probe report identified that despite being disqualified several times four contractors had been reappointed for carrying out the works.
The body recommended punishment for those contractors and a halt to releasing construction bills for them till November.
The committee also made a 20-point recommendation that included amendment to the haor management plan to avoid further disaster in the haor belt.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, standing paddy on 1,66,612 hectares out of 2,23,082 hectares of wetlands in Sunamganj, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Netrakona and Kishoreganj were damaged due to the untimely flashflood. 

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