The practice of cheating citizens — who should be the beneficiaries of a governance system — by a section of contractors and builders, needs to be stopped now. Our unscrupulousness has crossed all limits.
When I looked at the photographs of the houses that have been built in the Ashrayan 2 project, I felt like crying. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has initiated this project herself. The reports from Faridpur and Barisal showed that the houses were almost falling down months after being built.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that massive corruption has taken place while implementing the project. News media has also hinted at the involvement of public representatives.
Safe living isn’t possible in these houses. People would die while living in those.
On the other hand, reports have also been published that the beneficiaries, who are supposed to get the possession of the houses, are sick and tired of paying bribes.
Reports say that a UP chairman in Faridpur has received Tk25,000 each from 12 beneficiary families as bribes. Only one tubewell was provided for these families, and he has collected Tk900 from each beneficiary for setting up another. The families had to spend Tk2,500 each to get the Palli Bidyut connection — from which the chairman ate up Tk1,200.
To my mind, building killing traps by misappropriating people’s money is indeed a crime against humanity. I also take this personally, because by committing this crime, these criminals have helped to impact the image of our prime minister in a negative way. All blame would fall now on her head, and these criminals are responsible for it.
Development projects and corrupt practices have now become synonymous. There doesn’t seem to be a single project that is free of misappropriation. One important project is Amar Bari, Amar Khamar (my home, my farm). Misappropriation of money and cronyism were reported in the media. Although the project was meant for the disadvantaged, about 15% of beneficiaries were financially solvent.
There are more.
We have recently observed a new menace, a newer way of corruption. Reports have been published in many places, where builders and contractors are using bamboo instead of rods while building schools and roads in the countryside. That’s appalling! And we haven’t heard of any investigation being initiated or any measure being taken against the responsible persons.
Why do crimes such as these happen? And why are our authorities falling short of taking any actions against these crimes?
This culture of corruption has not developed overnight. Sometimes, I feel that we were a society of extreme have-nots, and the rich had always exploited us, and we had to remain in the poverty cage for centuries. This shackle has led us to develop the psychology of grabbing any opportunity to make money at any cost, no matter how and who suffers in the process. This is why we cheat others without thinking of the consequences.
The second aspect that comes to my mind is that we actually don’t love our country and the people the way we should. Nothing except money matters to us.
The country doesn’t matter; the people matter. Genetically, we have inherited an exploitative mind that begins like a parasite and then after a while it becomes monstrously dangerous.
It would be slightly better if we had adequate governance in place. That accountability is missing at the state level is quite noteworthy. It is noticeable that we can get away with serious crimes by influencing the authorities. No questions will be asked about my crimes if I can satisfy the people who are shouldering the responsibility to make the wrongs right.
Or maybe I am thinking wrongly. You can’t turn wrongs right. It is not possible to fix our psychology. We have reached a point of no return, and we have to accept this state of affairs as our destiny.
No; it is not our destiny to suffer at the hands of a rotten few. We can do better; we have had many significant achievements in the past. We can do it; we can weed out the criminals and bring justice to public life. Social justice is the single most important pillar of becoming an independent nation.
First published in Dhaka Tribune on 17 July 2021.