Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman on Wednesday said the name Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) has become synonymous with corruption.
He made the statement during a press conference to disseminate the findings of study titled "Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha: The way to overcome the challenges of good governance."
The TIB executive director claimed Rajuk, the agency responsible for coordinating urban development in the capital, has transformed into a profitable institution instead of a "public-friendly" government body.
"Its regulatory role should be curbed by forming a separate body to monitor development and planning activities. Because of Rajuk's other roles, its regulatory function has been overlooked," he added.
Citing the study, TIB Programme Manager Farhana Rahman and Deputy Programme Manager Fatema Afroz said people have to pay bribes ranging from Tk2,000-Tk450,000 to acquire building construction permits, design approvals and various other permits. Real estate development institutions have to pay Tk2,000-Tk2 crore for similar permits.
Additionally, to get various services related to projects, service seekers have to pay additional Tk2,000-Tk1 lakh more than the rate fixed by the government, the study found.
The study also found that Rajuk prioritises profitability through development and real estate business, rather than focusing on regulatory work. Despite planning being one of the most important tasks, it is often neglected.
According to the report, up to Tk2 crore has allegedly been paid to Rajuk in exchange for various services, approvals and permits for large scale or specialised development projects.
The TIB also claims to have found evidence of bribery – ranging from Tk30,000 to Tk1 crore – given in exchange for promotion and recruitment of officials at Rajuk.
The report says Rajuk officials, brokers and some service seekers have a three-way deal where the bribery occurs at a fixed rate.
There have been allegations of bribery taking place on contract at the time of surveys, before, during and after construction of buildings, and even at times of inspection by Rajuk officials.
Meanwhile, Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim termed the findings of the report as "false and baseless."
He also called upon the TIB to refrain it from publishing such imaginary information to the nation.
"It is a totally bogus news that at maximum Tk1 crore is needed for promotion and recruitment [of Rajuk officials]. In fact no officials have been recruited during my tenure," the minister said.
He urged Transparency International Bangladesh to give him their findings of irregularities in his ministry.
"We will definitely take action against any irregularities. We are working to make the ministry 100 percent corruption-free," Rezaul Karim said, claiming 90 percent of irregularities in the ministry has been stopped.