A recent drive by Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) revealed the depths of the crisis.
On September 21 a mobile court fined owners of three residential buildings in Agrabad Residential Area CDA with Tk 20,000 for renting out to educational institutions.
They were also asked to evict the commercial enterprises from their buildings within three months.
Educational institutions, guest houses, coaching centres, departmental stores, buying houses, beauty parlours, developer companies, restaurants, clinics, pharmacies and NGO offices have opened offices in a disorganised manner in almost all residential areas of the city.
Shahinul Islam Khan, Chief Town Planner of the CDA told the Dhaka Tribune that they had launched drives against commercial establishments in the residential areas.
“We will not allow any illegal commercial establishments in residential areas and the irresponsible building owners must face the consequences,” vowed the Chief Town Planner.
On September 8 a total of 24 commercial establishments were asked to vacate their premise in Chandgaon Residential Area of the city within three months.
These commercial establishments included pharmacies, beauty parlours, clinics, educational institutions that were fined by the mobile court with Tk 35,000 in total.
Also on August 29 a mobile court conducted a drive at North Khulshi area and fined three building owners with Tk 89,000 for renting out their residential buildings to commercial establishments.
According to the CDA, there are a total of 28 residential areas in the city such as Khulshi, Sugandha, OR Nizam, Chandgaon, Amirbag, Hill View, Nasirabad Housing Society, Panchlaish, Agrabad CDA, Green View, Chandrima, Halishahar and Katalganj.
The residents of the area think that these commercial establishments pose a great security risk to them.
Moin Chowdhury of Chandgaon Residential Area said that they were gravely concerned about security following the recent Gulshan café attack.
“Due to the exponential growth of residential/commercial buildings, hundreds of outsiders have access to areas that they would not have otherwise posing a serious security threat. The building owners rent out to commercial establishments so that they can charge a higher rent. We welcome the mobile courts drive by the CDA in evicting the illegal commercial establishments. The mobile should not stop halfway,” said Moin.
During a recent visit to OR Nizam Road Housing Society of the city the Dhaka Tribune found that as many as 30 coaching centres and other business were operating illegally in the area.
Anwarul Haque Chowdhury, general secretary of OR Nizam Road Residential Area Welfare Association said that their request to building owners fell on deaf ears about not renting out to commercial establishments.
Khin Won Nu, Executive Magistrate of the CDA who has been leading the mobile courts told the Dhaka Tribune that they were going to fine and serving notices to the irresponsible building owners for illegally renting out to commercial establishments.