The suspension came at the directive of BMDA Chairman and Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner M Hafizur Rahman Bhuiyan for "breaking trust of the organisation", said BMDA Executive Director Abdul Mannan. "Departmental action will be taken against Azizur," he added.
A seven-member employment committee headed by Mannan gathered at the organisation's conference room Thursday afternoon for preparing questions for the test of 34 staffs in five different posts.
A draft copy of the question paper went missing around 9:00pm, committee members said. Azizur was seen suspiciously going out of the conference room several times.
Half an hour later, committee members Magistrate Monwar Hossain Mollah and Magistrate Asaduzzaman caught Azizur as he tried to conceal a draft copy of the question paper in a book. He was about to sneak it out in his pocket, they added.
Dr Jahangir Alam, additional deputy commissioner (revenue) in Rajshahi and a member of the employment committee, said Azizur confessed to his crime and sought apologies.
"Assuming the question paper had been leaked, we had to prepare a fresh set of questions working overnight," he said.
A source said 342 candidates took the written test yesterday for the posts of a law officer, five assistant engineers, five data entry operators, five surveyors and 18 office assistants.
When contacted, Azizur Rahman refuted the allegation saying some unknown colleagues are conspiring against him.
Azizur was earlier suspended in 2002 over a store corruption charge.
Food output to rise by 2.11 MT in three dists, experts tell Rajshahi seminar
Experts at a seminar here yesterday urged the government to include the proposed surface water based North Rajshahi Irrigation Project (NRIP) in the upcoming budget to increase food production in there district.
They said, implementation of the Tk 860 crore project would help increase food production by 2.11 lakh tonnes by providing irrigation facility to 74850 hectares of land in Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj and Naogaon.
A feasibility study of the project was completed in 1988 and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA) expressed its willingness to assist the project, sources said.
Bangladesh Water Development Board (WDB) with assistance of joint forces organised the seminar on the proposed project at a city community centre.
WDB additional director general M Habibur Rahman, chaired the seminar. Prof Dr AFM Anowarul Haque, vice chancellor of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (Ruet) attended the seminar as chief guest.
Buet's water resources engineering department teachers Dr M Fazlul Bari and Dr M Monowar Hossain, Ruet teachers Dr Shafiuddin Miah and Iqbal Matin, RU teachers Dr Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan and Dr Golam Sabbir Sattar addressed the seminar, among others.
Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) executive director SM Abdul Mannan, Rajshahi Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ibrahim Khalil, journalists and development workers also spoke.
The speakers said, the excessive extraction of groundwater by deep tube-wells of BMDA over years has already started leaving an adverse impact in Rajshahi region. This is also causing incidents of land subsidence and water crisis, they added.
Use of groundwater for irrigation also increases risk of long-term environmental pollution as the surface is being contaminated with iron and other chemical substances, they said.
The proposed project covers 178200 hectares in Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi and Naogaon, of which some 133700 hectares are arable.
Among the arable lands, about 74800 hectares targeted under the project, are yet to be brought under irrigation by BMDA.
WDB assessed that about 80 cubic meter water per second, needed for irrigating the lands, would be collected from Padma river and would be circulated into the 52.50km main canal from Godagari-Nacheral to Khatirpur, 239km branch canals and 427 sub-canals.
A main pump machine and a booster pump will be set up in Godagari and Amnura areas while there would be two power stations under the project.
Govt to lose Tk 12 cr as BMDA chooses 'highest bidders'
The government will lose Tk 12 crore as the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) is set to award work for installation of prepaid meters in deep tube wells for irrigation to highest bidders, ignoring lower ones. The works in seven northern districts will be awarded in eight groups.
Sena Kosh Associates, which made the highest bid Tk 33.68 crore in one group got the work while other bidders offered prices between Tk 21 crore and Tk 25 crore, sources said.
Some deprived participants said, the BMDA, violating tender conditions, refused to detail necessary software architecture of the meters to bid winners, but asked them to provide samples within seven days.
Nuruzzaman, owner of Orient Trading that got works in Rajshahi and Naogaon Region-1 by offering Tk 6.34 crore for installing 2550 meters, lodged a complaint with BMDA against the alleged irregularities.
He said, no farm would be able to provide samples without the necessary software database as BMDA sought only meters that matched existing ones.
Meantime, BMDA has asked Sena Kosh Associates, the farm quoting the highest bid of Tk 4.84 crore to sign an agreement within a month to install 1200 meters in deep tube wells in Chapainawabganj, the sources said.
MH Corporation, one of the lowest bidders which quoted Tk 3.59 crore, was denied on the plea that it could not provide meter-samples in time.
"The irregularity may affect farmers with an increased price for irrigation water", said a BMDA official.
He explained that BMDA used to earn around Tk 45 crore annually by selling water to farmers. Its income increased by around 15 per cent since introduction of computerised meters in 2005.
The tenders for prepaid meters were floated in October last year and the lowest bidders were chosen in November 20.
Imtiaz Ahmed and Shamsul Huda Company won the work in Naogaon Region-2 to install 1300 metres at a cost of Tk 3.69 crore while Micro Tech won works in Joypurhat and Dinajpur. Sigma Engineering won the work in Panchagarh by offering prices between Tk 24,500 and Tk 30,000 per meter.
All bid winners were asked to provide samples without necessary details and were denied after the January 25 deadline.
Sena Kosh quoted Tk 40,000 per prepaid meter. It will install 1000 meters in Thakurgaon. Two other firms allegedly chosen by it (Sena Kosh) participated in the tender, the sources said.
Earlier in 2005-06 financial year, BMDA purchased some 2000 prepaid meters for Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj at about Tk 39,000 per meter from Sena Kosh, the sources claimed.
"The BMDA tender process is merely a pre-designed game with participants", said a deprived contractor.
BMDA superintendent engineer Khalekuzzaman denied the allegations and said, "Many of the tender participants were liable to be rejected as they had no experience. Yet we gave them opportunity considering their lowest offers".
"We can't show them our entire database. We detailed our designs in tender documents", he said replying a question.
He also said the enhanced project cost will not increase price of irrigation water.
Thu. April 08, 2004
Drought brings windfall to water traders
Boro in Barind region hit, yield may slide 10pc
A government-subsidised development agency and an NGO are apparently cashing in on the acute scarcity of irrigation water for Boro rice cultivation in the Barind region.
Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) is reportedly charging high prices for irrigation in the region, where a drought-like situation coupled with power crisis is all set to decimate the Boro production by at least 10 percent this year.
The BMDA that enjoys an average of Tk 50 crore in government subsidy a year is collecting around Tk 100 for an hour of irrigation using a deep tube-well.
Besides, CARB, a local NGO owned by the BMDA executive director, is also exploiting the farmers' plight for profiteering by selling irrigation water at twice the rate of the BMDA in Godagari upazila of Rajshahi, sources alleged.
The Barind region consists of Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj and Naogaon districts. A senior BMDA official said they had already informed the agriculture ministry of their apprehension of a 10 percent reduction in Boro harvest in the region this year following the irrigation exigency.
Abu Bakar Siddique, a farmer of Jotefatur village, said they were being compelled to buy water at high rates, as there was no alternative.
Mobarak Hossain of Amtali in Godagari has cultivated Boro on five acres of land. "I could water my land only 10 times, instead of the required 18 times for a sufficient irrigation. If two more weeks go with such scanty irrigation, my paddy will dry up in the fields."
The BMDA buys power from Power Development Board at Tk 1.86 per unit and a BMDA deep tube-well consumes power worth Tk 25 to Tk 30 per hour to pump up water, sources said. Adding overhead and other expenditures to that, the total cost for running a BMDA deep tube-well remains below Tk 40 per hour, they added.
During a field visit, the CARB personnel were found setting up power generators connected to BMDA deep tube-wells at Sarmongla in Godagari upazila and charging Tk 172 for an hour of irrigation during load-shedding hours.
Alam Pramanik, a peasant of Saranjai union in Tanore, said, "The cost of Boro cultivation this year is Tk 2,800 per bigha that includes water charges at Tk 100 per hour. The average production this year is likely to be limited to eight maunds per bigha, which means farmers will get a return of Tk 2,400 per bigha if the price of rice is Tk 300 per maund."
Asked about the so high charges, BMDA Executive Director Asaduzzaman told reporters that water charges varied between Tk 75 and Tk 90, saying nonchalantly, "The charges are quite reasonable considering the services."
On the allegation of taking Tk 100 for an hour of irrigation, he said investigation was on to look into the matter. He also claimed no power generators were used to irrigate Boro lands.
But, CARB Programme Director Zakir Hossain admitted that they were providing power generator facility to the BMDA deep tube-wells during load-shedding hours, but completely free of charge. "The tube-well operators might have been taking the money," he guessed.
According to sources, the BMDA earned Tk 2.50 crore profit providing irrigation services through 5,964 deep tube-wells in Barind region last year
Wed. January 21, 2004
BMDA succeeds when BWDB fails
1,220 deep tube-wells reactivated, irrigation facilities on 50,000 acres of Boro field restored in Dinajpur
A component of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) in greater Dinajpur region brought 1,220 deep tube-wells under operation facilitating smooth irrigation on 50,000 acres of Boro field.
The 'splendid task' brought the Rajshahi-based organisation hails from the government as well as from locals.
BMDA awarded all its 129 officials and employees in greater Dinajpur region with enhanced salaries by giving two incentives for their laudable role in reviving the inoperative deep tube-wells.
The irrigation machines were lying out of order for years together in the region because of negligence of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB).
The government undertook a Tk 34 cr project to reactivate the deep tube-wells under supervision of BWDB after a drought in 1995. The BWDB spent nearly Tk 20 cr for reactivating the deep tube-wells in five years since 1998, but failed to yield positive result.
The government detected negligence and irregularities on the part of the BWDB officials for their failure in reactivating the irrigation machines. So, the administration handed over the deep tube-wells to BMDA in January, 2003 as it (BMDA) has extensive experience as well as necessary expertise.
BMDA which earned widespread criticism in Rajshahi region for excessive use of ground water and drawing high water prices from growers in Barind areas, became successful in Dinajpur region.
The reactivated irrigation machines provided facilities to 20,456 acres of land in the region and helped fetch foodgrains worth nearly Tk 31 cr as well as promotion of 20,000 grower families last year, a BMDA press release said. The BMDA also earned Tk one cr as water bills from the growers, the press release added.
Inspired by last year's success, the BMDA undertook an ambitious programme of irrigating 50,000 acres of land and collecting Tk 3 cr water bills in the ongoing Boro season, official sources said.
Besides, BMDA has also developed water distribution system and irrigation canals that helped check misuse of water in the region.
"It is the hard work of our officials and employees that made the impossible possible", said BMDA executive director Asad-uz-Zaman adding that the government just provided the remaining project money of Tk 11 cr for its implementation.
While implementing the project, BMDA workers confronted the BWDB officials who were not happy with the handing over of their tube-wells and also the growers who pay irrigation water bills, he informed.