The government is implementing plot and flat projects through National Housing Authority (NHA) to ensure the citizens’ basic right such as housing. But taking advantage of these projects the NHA is purchasing luxurious cars one after another. And these cars are being purchased with the security money of the common people. Joint secretary level officers get government car facilities in official ca
pacity. Beyond this they are not entitled to any car. But joint secretary level officers have been taking cars from NHA projects always. Moreover, Tk 45 thousands is being taken from the government as running cost including fuel expenses. After abolition of Housing Department in 2001 and formation of National Housing Authority, it took up massive projects in hand. It is learnt that at present their 42 projects are under implementation. Over the five or six years NHA has been purchasing luxurious cars with the money of almost every flat project. There is criticism among the officials and employees of NHA over this. They claim that prices of flats are skyrocketing due to purchasing the cars unreasonably. Because of these people are withdrawing security money even after getting allotment of flats in lottery. However, the prices of flat are comparatively low considerably due to non-procurement of cars in special one or two project on tactical grounds. Documents of NHA project show that the prices of flats under two projects in the same area are different. Prices of some flats include the cost of vehicles and other charges. Therefore, the price of a flat excluding vehicle cost and other charges is low. On the other hand, the flat of which cost includes vehicle and other charges is higher than the market value. Recently, two Pajero sports cars have been purchased for the housing projects in Rajshahi and Chittagong. Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said the flats built by the government are supposed to be cheaper than those of private sector. RAJUK should take a flat price which is equal to its cost. It is unethical on the part of the government authorities to make extra profit. The government should investigate into the matter and punish the delinquent officials. He further said the offenders go scot-free due to poor audit system in the public sector. About this, Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain said “I was not knowledgeable about the matter. After gathering information, I will take necessary step. Our government is committed to distributing flats at the lowest possible rate.” It is evident from the documents of National Housing Authority that initiative has been taken to construct 28 buildings—14-storey each under Anandanagar residential flat project in Mirpur-16. Price of 1,385 square feet flat is Tk 75.44 lakh. On the other hand, price of a flat in the adjoining area is very low. In Mirpur-15, another project of 100 flats of 1,500 square feet each has been initiated. Price of each flat is estimated at Tk 35 lakh. An official concerned said a luxurious Pajero jeep has been bought for Anandanagar project. The idea of purchasing vehicle avoided in the project of Mirpur-15 with a view to distributing the flats to August 21 grenade attack victims. The officials concerned have resorted to a strategy. If they realize high price from August 21 attack survivors, the matter may be brought to the notice of the government policymakers. This is the case with Joynagar residential flat project under Mirpur. Initiative has been taken to construct five 14-storey buildings. A total of 520 flats of 1,500 square feet will be constructed there. Price of every flat was fixed at Tk 73 lakh. Following controversy, the price was revised at Tk 68.10 lakh. A Pajero jeep has been reportedly purchased for the project too. Meanwhile, 182 flats were constructed for the government officials in the nearby area Lalmatia. Price of every 1,250 square feet flat is fixed at Tk 61.4 lakh. Foundation stone of flat construction project for the middle income people was inaugurated at Batia area of Dohar upazila of Dhaka on March 26, 2012. The then state minister for housing and public works Abdul Mannan Khan inaugurated the project. The time for completion of the project was fixed December 2013. But this project at village level did not see any progress as it was taken irrationally. In the name of project, luxurious vehicle was bought although the project did not see any light. A jeep was purchased worth Tk 55 lakh from the government treasury. Mannan Khan’s brother and some of his cohorts used the jeep during the last days in office of Mannan Khan as a state minister. Presently, the vehicle is being used by an executive engineer concerned. National Hosing Authority recently has taken a flat construction project at Kalatoly of Cox’s Bazar. As per the regulation the names of lottery winners have already been declared. Still there has been no developmental works on the project area. Under this situation, the people concerned did not even forget to purchase a Pajero (Sport) brand vehicle spending about Tk one crore. Housing authority chairman Khandakar Md Akhteruzzaman is now using this vehicle while a member is using chairman’s previously used vehicle. In addition, National Housing Authority purchased a luxury vehicle worth Tk 93 lakh, the money was collected from a flat project in Rajshahi division. A member (Engineering and Coordination) of the organisation Md Sanwar Ali is now using the vehicle. Requesting anonymity, an official said, “Government’s purpose for undertaking flat project fails due to high-ambitious thoughts of engineers. They purchase luxurious cars after taking the projects and pay visit abroad to serve various purposes. As a result, the authorities concerned did not deliver flats to the common people at agreed price.” He said that government cannot sale their costly flats due to such practice. In some cases, the cost of government flat is more than that of privately-built flat. But the cost of the government land has been estimated at throwaway price which is much less than the market price. When asked, Khandker Md Akhtaruzzaman, Chairman, National Housing Authority told this correspondent, “I have joined this department as a chairman very recently. I have started work to check irregularities. I have been organizing review meetings with concerned officials of all departments. I don’t know from which project the luxurious car was purchased.” Engineer Md Sanowar Ali, Member (NHA) said, “To the best of my knowledge luxurious cars were not purchased from all projects. Cars were purchased only from the projects from which it is estimated. Those cars are being used for implementing project work. So it is not possible to distribute vehicles among the officials of the projects. No one has scope to enjoy luxurious life.” But another official of the organisation disagreed with it. Even if there are several projects in Dhaka under one executive engineer’s supervision, at least one car is purchased for each project with their project money, said the sources. But one car is enough for one engineer. This is actually done so that engineers can get new model cars. Sometimes X Corolla, Pajero or even Pajero sports cars are purchased according to their choice. This is nothing but luxury of the officials. Starting from sub-divisional engineers or lower level officials get the chance to use personal cars as a result of purchase of cars in this way. Besides, fuel expense for the purchased vehicles is usually taken from the project money. But all other costs for these vehicles are paid by the government, which is illegal. One Pajero was bought for the Mohammadpur F-block project, one for Mirpur 360 Flat project, one for Sylhet Shahjalal Housing Flat project, one for Chittagong Halishahar Flat project, one X Corolla for Chittagong Kaptai Flat project and one Pajero was bought for Dinajpur Flat project, said the sources.