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PDB faces graft charges

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Media: The Independent

Original URL: PDB faces graft charges

E-paper URL: PDB faces graft charges

Allegations have been raised that the Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) Chittagong gives illegal electricity connections against hefty bribes. The BPDB Chittagong Madarbari sales and distribution department allegedly shows tenants as the owners of buildings in the applications in order to ‘legalise’ illegal connections.

It has been alleged that many BPDB employees and officers have made millions of takas and bought property through such dishonest means. Recently, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) found that BPDB storekeeper ASM Hossainur Zaman, whose monthly salary was Tk. 4,700, is now the owner of a seven-storied building in the city’s Sabujbag area and a two-storied building in Comilla on a 13.5-decimal plot. He also owns 7.30 acres of land, a shop in the city’s VIP Tower, and a community centre. The ACC submitted a chargesheet in a Chittagong court on August 27, accusing Zaman of making wealth illegally. Such allegations are rife against many BPDB employees in Chittagong. Senior BPDB officials, however, claimed that these are isolated incidents and the entire department gets a bad name because of a few officials. Recently, the BPDB Madarbari sales and distribution has allegedly allowed two illegal connections at Hazi Saleh Mansion in the city’s railway station area against a huge amount of money. The BPDB has allegedly given an electricity connection to a business entity named Three Star Travels without asking for any document and showing the tenant as the owner of Hazi Saleh Mansion on paper.

BPDB rules say that written consent from the building owner and the tenant agreement are mandatory for giving such connections in favour of the tenant. The BPDB followed neither rule in this case. In the same area, the BPDB allegedly changed the ‘nature of meter’ from 220v to 440v in favour of one Super Star Hotel, apparently without the consent of the building owner.

When the two building owners lodged complaints with the BPDB, the latter allegedly did nothing. The matter then went to court and, finally, the BPDB disconnected the lines. The two errant tenants then allegedly started ‘stealing’ power. But the BPDB allegedly did not take any action against them, though the owners lodged complaints.

Challenging the decision to disconnect the power line, Three Star Travels then went to court against the BPDB and the building owner. The BPDB Madarbari executive engineer submitted a statement in the first district judge Court of Chittagong, alleging that while applying for the connection, the owner of Three Star Travels, Md Zafor, submitted documents that do not belong to his business entity.

“He submitted documents belonging to other shops. To get electricity connection, the owner’s ‘consent letter’ is mandatory. Moreover, the building owner lodged a complaint with BPDB against the connection. It was a temporary connection for three months and the time has expired,” says the statement. The tenant could not produce any tenant agreement and owner’s consent letter in court either. The court rejected the application of the tenant. Now, questions have been raised that if the tenant agreement and the owner’s consent letter are mandatory for getting electricity connections, how did the BPDB allow these connections? These are allegedly only two of many incidents of a similar nature.

The owner of Hazi Saleh Mansion, Md Elias, alleged: “Some unscrupulous BPDB officials have a nexus with our tenant. They took a huge bribe from the tenant and showed the latter as the owner of the building on paper and allowed the electricity connection. Moreover, the BPDB has not taken any measurable action for the power theft either.”

Ashok Kumar Chowdhury, executive engineer of the BPDB Madarbari, refused to comment.  Mukit Ahmed Chowdhury, the deputy executive engineer of the BPDB, said: “I allowed the connection as Ashok Kumar Chowdhury asked me to. I don’t know about any exchange of money. I just executed my boss’s order.”

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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