A hybrid-power project undertaken for backwater Hatiya has finished sans installation of the plant, setting what insiders termed a bizarre instance of irregularities.
Sources said logistics, including high-end cars, were all purchased and appointments made but the plant didn't see the light of day.
The authorities spent Tk 91.3 million without construction of the 7.5-megawatt (MW) hybrid power plant funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), officials said Friday.
The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) finished the project without installation of the power plant although it purchased cars, acquired land, appointed consultants and paid staff salaries, they said.
The Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) has found such massive irregularities in the Tk 1.31-billion project tiled 'Installation of an Off-Grid Wind-Solar Hybrid System with HFO-based Engine Driven Generator on Hatya Island'.
The project started in March 2012 and its execution schedule finished in December 2014 sans the plant in place. It was designed as an integrated plant incorporating solar, wind and HFO/diesel as fuels.
The IMED has asked the Power Division for conducting a thorough investigation and taking necessary action on the "massive irregularities in the project-execution cycle", the officials said.
Project-insiders told the FE that the project-executing agency, BPDB, in the early stages of the project-execution period purchased four cars, including a luxury jeep, and double-cabin pickup spending Tk 11.7 million.
The jeep is being handed over to a Joint Secretary of the Power Division for his use, they told the FE.
They said the BPDB paid almost all the money (Tk 33.4 million) to an appointed consultant from the Tk 33.6 million earmarked in the Development Project Proposal (DPP) although the consultant needed not to supervise the construction work of the plant.
According to the BPDB, the consultant was appointed to study feasibility and supervise the construction work of the hybrid power station on the offshore Hatiya Island.
Meanwhile, the state-run BPDB has failed to appoint the main contractor for constructing the hybrid power plant.
An official said the BPDB also violated the DPP in appointing the consultant for the supervision work. "The government had approved a Tk 33.6-million fund for appointing consultant. But the BPDB signed agreement involving Tk 87.4 million with the selected consultant. The executing agency cannot do that."
Furthermore, the BPDB allowed the consultant beyond the execution schedule to complete its works, which is another sort of irregularities, said the official, wishing not to be quoted by name.
Meanwhile, the project-executing authority also breached the rules in appointing the contractor for installing the power plant as it changed the scope of works without revision of the DPP.
According to the DPP, the BPDB was to install 5.5MW HFO/diesel-based, 1.0MW solar-based and 1.0MW wind-based composite power plant. But the power generator and supplier changed the scope of tender and split it into two lots for setting up the hybrid power station bypassing the DPP they themselves prepared.
Besides, although the project had been finished nearly two and a half years ago in December 2014, the executing agency submitted the Project Completion Report to the Planning Commission a few months back. This time lag is a clear violation of the government rules and regulations, another official said.
The government appointed four Project Directors (PDs)-two full-time and another two part-time-within about three years of its execution period between March 2012 and December 2014.
The last PD of the project, RUM Rashedul Hasan, acknowledged that they acquired land and developed that for installing the power plant at Hatiya, appointed consultant, purchased two cars and paid salaries to the staff from the project fund.
"As per recommendation from the Power Division, we have finished the project without installing the power plant," he said.
Mr Rashedul Hasan said they invited international tender for appointing contractor for the power plant. "But the bidder submitted tender with 113 per cent higher cost than the official estimation. Then, the Power Division suggested us to scrap the project without completing the main work on the 7.5MW power plant."
"As per direction of the Division, we finished the project before appointing the contractor for installing the plant," he told the FE.
Asked about details, Mr Hasan declined to tell more, saying that the first PD, Md Raihanul Islam, who had served for a long time with the project, could give the details.
After repeated attempts, this correspondent failed to talk to Power Division Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus in this regard.