Surveyor incident at DC office: Is ACC investigation reliable

How do we view the arrest of Atiqur Rahman, a surveyor at the Cox's Bazar DC office, and the Tk 2.3 million seized from him? Many may question whether he has done this for the first time or many times before. Is it part of individual corruption, or is it mega corruption related to mega development projects!

According to Prothom Alo, Atiqur Rahman, a surveyor of Land Acquisition (LA) branch of Cox's Bazar district administration, was caught in Dhaka with Tk 2.3 million in his bag. He was later sent back to Cox's Bazar from Dhaka Airport. The Cox's Bazar district administration handed him over to the police on Friday night. Cox's Bazar Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Amin Al Parvez told Prothom Alo that surveyor Atiqur could not show any valid source of the money. He was travelling to Dhaka by plane with this money. Investigations will reveal from where he got the money and who he was going to see.

Now the question is will the investigation be able to reveal the accurate information? Who will conduct investigation? The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is preparing a case against him. But the ACC's past records make it difficult to rely on its investigation. According to media reports, the government is working on 72 mega projects worth Tk 3 trillion in Cox's Bazar.

Earlier, three investigations by the ACC found evidence of corruption of Tk 780 million in land acquisition. The deputy director of the ACC, Sharif Uddin, who led the investigation into corruption was first transferred and then sacked last February. He was not given the opportunity to defend himself in this case.

In 2017, the former DC of Cox's Bazar Md Ruhul Amin and ADC (Revenue) Zafar Alam also had to go to jail for embezzling Tk 200 million of Matarbari Coal Power Plant in Maheshkhali upazila. Compensation of Tk2.37 billion was fixed against land of shrimp firms, houses and other infrastructures acquired under the coal-fired thermal power project at Matarbari. Of these, 25 shrimp firms were shown non-existent and Tk 198.2 million was embezzled.

People strongly felt that the ACC had sacked an official who had worked with a reputation to protect the corrupt. How just can this organisation be? It is important to disclose to the public the source of the money seized from the surveyor Atiqur, as well as the partners and shareholders of the money. It is more important to bring everyone responsible to justice. Arbitrary corruption in the name of development projects will continue if the big fishes are protected.

While the government is taking a tough stance against corruption, a surveyor in the DC office has been seen flying with Tk 2.3 million and a driver Abdul Maleque of health directorate has been seen illegally amassing millions.

They do not appear to have got such an opportunity without the go-ahead from their superiors. In order to ensure the accountability of the government, it is necessary to unravel the mystery of this Tk 2.3 million. And in the interest of transparency of the ACC, it is necessary to publish the corruption report of 155 people submitted by the sacked officer of the organisation, Sharif Uddin.