Vol. 5 Num 1046 Sat. May 12, 2007  

Char Livelihood Programme
Govt funds gobbled up in Gaibandha

Joint forces have detected corruption and irregularities in implementation of the ongoing Char Livelihood Programme (CLP) in Sunderganj upazila in Gaibandga district.

In a preliminary report to the district administration given on May 9, the joint forces suggested action against the wrongdoers, sources said.

The programme was undertaken in the current financial year in five unions in Sundarganj upazila along Teesta and Brahmaputra river basins involving an amount of Tk 32 lakh. Under the programme, homesteads of destitute shoal people are being raised above the flood level.

Each family is supposed to get Tk 13,000 or an equivalent quantity of foodgrains for earth filling work. But most of the beneficiaries got amounts between Tk 2,000 and Tk 500, and many even did not get anything.

During probe by the joint forces, it was revealed that the programme envisaged raising homesteads by seven and a half feet but those were actually raised by three to four feet as the beneficiaries did not get the full amount of assistance.

The probe followed complaints by local people to Sundarganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer earlier.

Labourers working under the programme got only Tk 50 a day against a sanctioned wage of Tk 70, they alleged.

Nepotism and irregularities were also alleged in forming project committees. Most committees were formed after the choice of local influentials.

Allegations have it that most vulnerable groups in areas worst hit by floods were sidelined in selecting beneficiaries only to misappropriate funds.

Seeking anonymity, some local people told this correspondent that a project was taken up in Badamer Char in Sunderganj upazila, where a local NGO had earlier implemented a similar project in 2004 while many deserving areas were ignored.

In many areas, solvent households were included in the programme, leaving out the ultra poor, they alleged.

On getting allegations, the Sunderganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer asked the Upazila Education Officer to submit a report after investigation on CLP work. The Upazila Education Officer conducted an investigation on April 18 in Kapasia union and submitted a report to the UNO on April 29. The UNO then requested joint forces to probe the matter.