Over 90 percent officials and employees of Bangladesh Railway East Zone here have long been engaged in the illegal practice of renting out their allocated houses to outsiders as they found it very profitable.
Besides, union leaders and local influential people in collusion with a section of railway officials had grabbed vacant ones and rented those out to others, too, thanks to the negligence of the higher authorities concerned.
Following a visit by a team of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and media reports, around 500 such vacant units were sealed off recently by the authorities.
According to railway sources, there are 5,329 units of four categories in 30 colonies under the Bangladesh Railway East Zone in Chattogram.
Of them, 153 have been allocated among the first-class employees while 237 among class II, 2,255 among class III and 2,684 among class IV employees in a nominal rent.
However, a staggering 90 percent of the railway officials and employees have rented out their allocated houses to outsiders violating the rules.
Even, they constructed 10-15 houses on the premises of each quarter and rented those out to others as well.
Illegal gas and water connections were also provided to these houses.
The railway quarters are on high demand and the staff provide money illegally to have them in their names as they can earn huge money by renting those out to outsiders.
On October 29, an ACC team, led by assistant director of ACC Coordination office-1 Fakhrul Islam, conducted a drive in Tiger Pass and Pahartali colonies in the city and found the allegation to be true.
Contacted, ACC Public Relations Officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya said the drive was conducted following a complaint received through hotline 106 of the national anti-graft body.
He said the ACC team found the allegation of renting out the allotted houses to outsiders to be true after checking necessary papers.
After scrutinising the documents, it found that around 500 out of the total units remained vacant but during the field visit, they found that the railway workers’ leaders and local influential people occupied and rented out those to others.
“A report will be sent to the ACC for further investigation and legal action will be taken after having permission from the commission,” Pranab said.
Meanwhile, the railway authorities have sealed off all the vacant units which were under illegal occupation.
Contacted, Syed Faruk Ahmed, General Manager of Railway East Zone, said, “The quarters have been allocated for ensuring accommodation facilities of the railway officials and employees. But renting those out to others is very unfortunate as well as the violation of rules.”
He also said although a list of the railway staff who are involved in the illegal practice was made in the past, action could not be taken against them for want of required money.
Faruk also said the list will be updated and action will be taken accordingly.