Probe body finds VC’s involvement03 March 2021
Staff Reporter :
A probe body formed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has found Begum Rokeya University vice-chancellor Prof Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah's involvement in gross irregularities in the construction of Sheikh Hasina Hall and Dr Wazed Research and Training Institute.
The committee has submitted its report on irregularities committed on the ground of increasing the cost of the projects through alterations of the designs approved by the prime minister.
The probe body recommended legal action against the persons involved, including the vice-chancellor, his nephew engineer Manzur Quader and other officials.
The negligence and stagnation that had plagued the constructions at Begum Rokeya University were the manifestation of the administration's immorality, incompetence and personal whims, the committee noted.
"It has caused financial losses to the government, obstructed the creation of educational opportunities and tarnished the image of the university," the committee remarked in the probe report.
VC Prof Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah would have to bear all the responsibilities as the executive head of the university as well as holding the position of project director at a crucial time, they remarked.
According to the report, the designs of the two buildings had been altered, ignoring the approved development project proposal (DPP).
In addition, construction costs had more than doubled - the cost of Dr Wazed Research and Training Institute was increased from Tk 26.87 crore to Tk 61 crore, while the cost of Sheikh Hasina Hall rose from Tk 51.35 crore to Tk 107 crore.
The VC also spent Tk 40 lakh on consultation fees even though there was no mention of such fees in the approved DPP.
On December 12, 2019, the Education Minister held a meeting with the project directors of different universities. The meeting noticed various inconsistencies in the development project of Begum Rokeya University. The Education Minister asked the UGC to investigate the irregularities.
On February 17, 2020, the UGC formed a committee, with Member Prof Muhammad Alamgir as its convener, to investigate the irregularities. The other members of the body are UGC Planning and Development Division Director (now secretary) Dr Ferdous Zaman and Additional Director Dr Durga Rani Sarker.
The committee went to Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur on January 17 this year. During the visit, they visited the construction sites and examined the documents of the project. The inquiry report was submitted to the education ministry on February 25 last. The report reveals that the inquiry committee found irregularities and corruption in the construction of three establishments at the university.
The report says that VC Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah had appointed second consulting firm-Messrs Acumen Architect and Planners Limited-instead of reaching a consensus with Monwar Habib and Prakrito Nirman Limited, a joint venture consulting firm appointed earlier. "It was a clear violation of Public Procurement Act 2006, Public Procurement Rules 2008 and the agreement between the project director and first consulting firm."
The prime minister inaugurated the construction work through a video conference on January 4, 2017 based on the designs made by the first consulting firm for Sheikh Hasina Hall and Dr Wazed Research Institute.
"Almost half of the construction work of the buildings have already been completed. So, there was no necessity of a second design or drawing," the committee remarks in the report. "The construction work should be completed according to the main design approved by the university following proper rules and inaugurated by the prime minister."
The probe committee says in the report that violating the government directives, a second consulting firm was given appointment undesirably, which was against the public procurement rules. "We recommend taking legal action against the persons involved in such immoral acts."