The government has initiated a probe into ‘abnormal’ high price paid for household articles to furnish apartments in multi-storey buildings under the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project in Pabna.
‘I have already asked the public works department to form a probe committee headed by an additional chief engineer,’ housing and public works minister SM Rezaul Karim told New Age on Saturday.
The committee would begin the probe on Sunday and would submit the report in seven working days, he added.
The purchase price of the household articles as reported in media that went viral in social media looked ‘abnormal’, he noted.
The public works department purchased the household articles, including electric stove, electric kettle, room cleaners, televisions, refrigerators, pillows and washing machines, for furnishing 966 apartments constructed mainly for the Russian engineers and officials of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project.
Each of the pillows was reportedly purchased for Tk 5,957 and lifted at a cost of Tk 760.
An electric stove reportedly cost Tk 7,747 and its lifting cost Tk 6,650.
The purchase price of an electric kettle was reportedly Tk 5313 and its lifting cost was Tk 2,945.
The public works department purchased a room cleaner for Tk 12,018 and lifted it at a cost of Tk 6,650.
An electric iron cost Tk 4,154 and its lifting cost Tk 2,945.
A television reportedly cost Tk 86,970 while its lifting cost Tk 7,698.
A refrigerator reportedly cost Tk 94,250 and its lifting cost Tk 12,521.
The works minister said that the purchases had been completed by the public works department much before he was appointed the minister.
‘Anyway, the probe committee will submit report in seven working days,’ he said.
Science and technology minister Yeafesh Osman said that the construction and furnishing of the apartments were done by the public works department with the block allocation given from the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project.
‘We gave some requirements ensuring first-class accommodation for Russians engaged in the project,’ he said.
Since the public works department was responsible for the purchase, the housing and public works ministry would look into it, he said.
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman said that the purchase price of the equipment were absolutely abnormal.
He said that Anti Corruption Commission should also launch an inquiry as many government probe bodies formed earlier for financial irregularities were proved to be a mere bureaucratic exercise.
He noted that the government should seriously look into the matter since the construction of the apartments was a small component of the multi-billion dollar mega project.
The country’s first nuclear power plant is being constructed at Rooppur in Pabna with more than $12 billion financial and technical assistance from Russia. One of the two reactors is expected to be commissioned in 2023.