The authorities of the state-run Shikalbaha 150MW Peaking Power Plant in Chattogram have allegedly bought pumps at a cost 12 times higher than their actual price.
They paid $365,000 for the machines worth just $30,017.
According to sources, a few officials, in connivance with the supplier, embezzled a large amount of money in the process of purchasing the pumps.
The most shocking development is that the machines, which were bought on an emergency basis in 2016, were left unused in the storage area of the power plant for nearly five years.
This grim picture came to the fore on Tuesday when the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a case against six people, including five officials of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), for corruption in purchasing the pumps.
The accused are: Bhuban Bijay Datta, additional chief engineer (acting) of the power plant; Abu Yusuf and Tofazzal Hossain, additional chief engineers; Mizanur Rahman Sarker, executive engineer of BPDB; A H Kamal, chief engineer of Northern Electricity Supply Company under BPDB; and Abdul Alim, owner of Powertech International.
The Directorate of Purchase of BPDB formed a seven-member tender evaluation committee in 2016 to buy a: GT main lube oil pump with AC motor, GT emergency lube oil pump with AC motor, GT-roton lifting pump with AC motor, and portable GT-lube oil centrifuge machine for the power plant.
The committee stipulated the condition in such a way that only Powertech International could participate in the contracting work.
As per the rules, a tender must be advertised. In the case of national tenders, they must at least be advertised in a Bangla and English-language newspaper widely circulated within Bangladesh. For international tenders, they must be advertised in a renowned international English newspaper, publication, or UN publication, or at foreign trade missions of Bangladesh located at home or abroad.
In contrast, the tender notice was published in a nominal newspaper and was not published in an international newspaper, publication or at any mission.
Moreover, there was a provision that the revised advertisement be published in the same manner but it was not complied with either.
As a result, only two companies submitted tenders. Although the number was insufficient for competition requirements, officials confirmed them with ill intentions.
The officials awarded the work order of $365,000 to Powertech International. The products were supplied and the amount was withdrawn from the BPDB fund accordingly.
However, according to a commercial invoice and the letter of credit (LC) of the importers and as per record of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited's Shyamali branch, the product was imported at a price of just $30,017.
Mamunur Rashid Chowdhury, an assistant director of the ACC headquarters in Dhaka, filed the case with the watchdog's divisional office in the port city.
ACC Secretary Dilawar Bakht said the commission found documentary evidence against six people and thus filed the case.
"If the officer concerned needs to arrest the accused, he may do that," the secretary responded to a question from journalists.
About the allegations, Bhuvan Bijay Dutta told The Business Standard the purchasing department is responsible for this procurement.
"Usually, the machines that we purchase are so costly and it is not possible to buy them just $30,017," he said.
About the faulty tender process, he said, "We followed the proper rules in that process, too. We advertised the tender in several national dailies, including an English daily."
However, Dutta was unable to provide the names of any specific newspapers.