Taqsem A Khan, the under-fire managing director of Dhaka WASA, has once again asked for permission to carry out his official work remotely from the United States.
He is planning to travel to America for treatment and to visit his family, according to the leave application he submitted to the Local Government Division on Sept 7.
The Dhaka WASA Board had approved his leave of absence from Aug 10 to Oct 9, but he could not travel earlier due to work commitments.
Taqsem intends to stay in the US for six weeks, from Sept 24 to Nov 4, and wants to attend office virtually during the trip.
In his leave application, Taqsem said the heads of different wings would carry out their tasks routinely and keep in touch with him at all times. In his absence, Deputy Managing Director AKM Shahid Uddin will attend meetings on behalf of Taqsem to ensure smooth continuity of work, according to him.
Taqsem added that he would not seek any financial support from the government and would personally bear all the expenses of his trip to the US.
Taqsem had previously applied to the Dhaka WASA Board in July for permission to virtually attend office from the US. The matter was discussed at a board meeting on Jul 7. However, the board did not grant Taqsem's request to work virtually.
Deep Azad, a member of Dhaka WASA Board, said Taqsem should not have ignored the board's decision and applied for leave to the ministry.
“The board did not approved his application to work virtually while he is abroad. Yet, he applied to the ministry. It is unacceptable. We will ask him about the matter at the next board meeting,"
Deep added that the WASA MD called him on Sunday and said the application to the ministry was a "mistake".
"He said he will correct it. He will be on duty while in Copenhagen and during his leave in America.”
Government officials are within their rights to apply for leave, according to Md Khairul Islam, additional secretary of the Local Government Division. But leave will not be granted to Taqsem on this occasion, he said.
“He can, of course, apply, but we will only grant leave in line with the rules. We will follow the decision of the [WASA] board."
Taqsem is still in the country, but he was not available for comment on the matter.
The WASA chief had previously visited the US for two months in April. At the time, he faced heavy criticism for virtually attending office.
Since taking office in 2009 on a three-year term, Taqsem has been at the centre of numerous controversies for his conduct in office, his enormous salary and benefits package, and his public comments.
Taqsem's stint as WASA MD for an unprecedented six consecutive terms, which Transparency International, Bangladesh described as a breach of the body's rules and regulations in a 2019 report, has also raised eyebrows.