Disaster management and relief secretary Shah Kamal and 139 others, including officials, contractors and project implementation committee members of Water Development Board, were sued on Thursday for making derogatory comments flash flood-affected people and alleged corruption and negligence in the construction and repair of the haor protection dams.
Sunamganj bar association general secretary Md Abdul Haque filed the case with Senior Special Judge’s Court on behalf of the bar association.
Senior lawyer Md Shahiduzzaman Chowdhury moved the case.
Sunamganj public prosecutor Khayrul Kabir Rumen said that senior special judge Md Muzibur Rahman, also the district and sessions judge, took cognisance of the case after a preliminary hearing and asked the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the allegations against the accused.
Earlier on July 2, the commission filed a case against 15 water board officials, including district executive engineer Afsar Uddin, and 46 contractors for corruption in haor protection dam project in Sylhet and Sunamganj.
ACC assistant director Faruque Hossain filed the case with Sunamganj sadar police station and most of the officials, who were working at the WDB divisional and Sunamganj district office, were named in the case.
Abdul Haque told New Age that he filed the case following a decision of the bar association.
He said that the filing of the case was delayed for collecting the information and documents of the corruption and irregularities committed in constructing and repairing the haor protection dams and data on the damages caused by the early flash flood.
‘The case has been filed in the interest of the flood-hit farmers,’ the plaintiff said.
In the complaint, Abdul Haque stated that disaster management secretary Md Shah Kamal made mocking comments hurting 2.5 million residents of Sunamganj in a meeting at the deputy commissioner office on April 20, in which disaster management and relief affairs minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya was present as chief guest.
The secretary had said, ‘Those who have demanded that Sunamganj should be declared as disaster-hit area, have no knowledge in this regard.’
He had also reportedly said that an area could be declared ‘distressed area’ after death of more than half of the population of the area in accordance with Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act.
‘Those, who are making such a demand, have no knowledge,’ the secretary told the meeting that hurt the sentiments of the people of Sunamganj, the plaintiff stated.
He had also claimed that not a single goat had even died so far.
The 15 WDB officials, including its Sylhet division former additional chief engineer Abdul Hai, and 46 contractors and president and general secretary of
39 project implementation committees also named in the case.
WDB Sunamgan executive engineer Abu Bakkar Siddique Bhuiyan said that they were informed by different quarters about the case.
‘The allegations brought in the case would be adjudicated by the court through investigation,’ he said, adding that none of the officials, named in the case, was working at the office at present.
About 95 per cent of the standing boro crop, the only annual crop in the haor belt, was damaged in the early flash flood in Sunamganj caused by excessive rainfall and onrush of hilly water from India in late March.
The boro paddy planted on 2,23,082 hector wetlands in 154 haors in Sunamganj went under water as the flood water entered the haors one after another between march 27 and April 24 damaging protect dams because of not constructing and repairing them properly in time. It affected 3,25,990 farmers.
The second blow to the flood-hit people of Sunamganj was the mortality of fishes in the haors in April as the volume of oxygen in the water dropped because of decomposition of the submerged boro crop, diminishing the last hope of the ultra-poor farmers of maintaining their livelihoods by fishing.
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