January 3, 2023
DHAKA – It is quite frustrating to see how various development projects often fail to meet the deadline due to ill-planning, inefficiency, mismanagement, corruption as well as fund crisis. While the deadlines of some of these projects keep extending, increasing the overall project cost, some projects are just abandoned midway, also wasting a huge amount of public money. A report published in this daily revealed the ill-fate of one such important mega project undertaken to free three upazilas of Moulvibazar from flooding. The project worth Tk 996.30 crore was taken up by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) in 2021 after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) had approved it. Although it was scheduled to be completed by 2023, no visible work of the project has been completed so far due to shortage of funds. According to BWDB sources, only Tk 75 crore of the allocated Tk 996 crore has been handed over to them so far.
Reportedly, the project was divided in 76 packages and 53 contractors were selected who were supposed to complete the work. Already, 26 of the 72 work packages have been abandoned, while work on the remaining 46 packages is continuing at a slow pace. The residents of the upazilas think that if the project cannot be completed before the next monsoon, the entire area may face devastating floods this year again.
This project is supposed to control floods in Moulvibazar by dredging some very important rivers, such as the Monu river, and repairing and building some river protection dams. We have seen how last year’s devastating floods in the Sylhet, Sunamganj and Moulvibazar region made millions of people homeless and affected their livelihoods. The communities are still living in financial hardship as they lost all their belongings to regular floods as well as the seasonal flash floods.
In order to prevent a similar situation this year, the authorities must make a well-coordinated plan to control the flooding in the region. Since the above-mentioned project is supposed to manage the floods in Moulvibazar, it should not be abandoned midway. The funds allocated for the project must be disbursed soon so that the contractors can continue their work. Since the deadline would have to be rescheduled, the BWDB and other relevant authorities must revise its plan to complete the project within the shortest possible time and with the stipulated budget.
We understand that the government is in a financial crunch and needs to practice austerity measures at all levels. It is all the more reason to only approve and undertake projects that are absolutely crucial for the communities, and most importantly, to ensure there is no wastage, corruption or delay during their implementation.
Finally, only dredging the rivers and building dams cannot stop the floods in the region. The BWDB must take advice from our river experts in this regard, change their traditional “cordon approach” to rivers and adopt a modern river management approach, if they really want to manage floods in the region.