Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University is a specialised public university. The university campus is located in Gazipur’s Kaliakoir area. At the moment, the university is conducting its activity in a rented building.

The UGC sources said the university authorities had applied for starting a new programme named ‘Bachelor of Science in Data Management and Analytics’. However, the concerned authorities have finished the installation of Big Data Lab (phase-1) even before getting the approval from the UGC about a year ago.

The UGC probe committee headed by professor Abu Taher is also investigating whether the lab was set up properly or not.

Admitting that they have not got the approval, professor Munaz Ahmed Noor, vice-chancellor (VC) of the university, said they had applied for approval about two and half years ago. However, he claimed that the UGC granted the budget for the installation of a big data lab despite not giving the approval for the programme.

“The lab is now being used for the works of other departments. There was no discrepancy in this project. The contract was not given to any company close to the university authorities,” said the VC Munaz Ahmed Noor.

He also alleged that two members of the UGC were deliberately trying to insult him during the last phase of his tenure as their purposes were not served.

Irregularities that came up in the probe report

The committee has already submitted the probe report to the UGC. According to the report, the ‘JB of BMIT Solutions Limited’ and the ‘i360 Bangladesh Limited’ jointly got the contract for the construction of the lab.

Analysing the data from various sources, the committee came to know that the owner of JB of BMIT Solutions Limited is ‘very close’ to the university authorities. The company is new. As the company did not have the qualifications required in the tender, it partnered with i360 to get the contract.

According to the investigation report, the university documents show that the authorities have approved the payment of Tk 59.46 million. However, the committee has found a debit voucher of Tk 46.84 million. The university authorities have not provided any information on the disbursement of the remaining of the amount.

The report further says it is clearly evident to the committee that the inclusion of i360 Bangladesh Limited in this project was deliberate in order to give the work order to JB of BMIT Solutions Limited.

Sources close to the committee say a new company has been benefited tactfully here. The report further added that Ashraf Uddin, acting registrar of the university, was reluctant to provide the information sought by the committee.

Such non-cooperation from him, which includes not providing details of the companies which participated in the tender and not showing the main files to the committee, is not acceptable at all. The experts of the committee didn’t even have the chance to verify the equipment procured by the university either.

Qazi Muhaimin-As-Sakib, professor of information technology department at the University of Dhaka, was one of the experts in the committee. Golam Dastagir, senior assistant director of UGS was the member secretary of the committee. When contacted, a member of the committee said they had already submitted the probe report.

Not acceptable at all

Noting that the university authorities could not provide any logical explanation for the procurement of equipment before getting the required approval, the committee in its recommendation said that instruction can be given to university authorities to be more cautious and responsible in spending public money.

In addition, the committee also recommended forming a high-level committee for further investigation in this regard.

When asked, former UGC chairman professor Abdul Mannan told Prothom Alo on Sunday that the public universities are run by people’s money. Here, the money has to be spent in a legitimate way within the law. A deviation from that is not acceptable in any way. It should not be done.

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