The High Court on Sunday directed government authorities to stop the demolition of several British-era historic buildings in Old Dhaka.
The court also asked the government to preserve the “historical and archeological values” of the ancient structures, which are located under Holding Nos 41, 41/1, 41/2, 42/1, 42/2 and 43 on Hrishikesh Das Road.
Sources said ancient structures in four areas of Old Dhaka— Farashganj, Shakhari Bazar, Sutrapur and Ramna— were declared as heritage sites by RAJUK in 2009.
However, RAJUK amended the heritage list last year and withdrew its protection for the aforementioned areas, paving the way for the buildings’ demolition. The demolition of a century-old antique building at Holding No 43 began last week, despite widespread public outcry.
A High Court bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir issued Sunday’s ruling following a writ petition filed by Urban Study Group (USG) Chief Executive Officer Taimur Islam. The writ sought necessary directives for the protection of historic structures and heritage sites.
“Finally, it is a positive result,” USG CEO Taimur said. “The demolition of the heritage building at Hrishikesh Das Road in Sutrapur has stopped as the HC has issued a six-month stay order.”
ALso Read- Locals and activists protest demolition of antique house in Old Dhaka
The High Court asked the respondents to the writ to explain why their failure to restrict demolition of the buildings should not be declared illegal, and why they should not be directed to take necessary steps to preserve all classical and neoclassical buildings in Dhaka aged over 75 years as part of Bangladesh's heritage. The court ordered that the explanations be provided within four weeks.
Bangladesh Supreme Court lawyer Md Ashik-Al-Jalil named the respondents to the writ as: the Housing and Public Works Ministry and Cultural Affair Ministry secretaries; the Department of Archeology director general; the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, RAJUK; the Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner and Dhaka District deputy commissioner; Sutrapur police station OC; and owners, occupiers and persons interested in the antique buildings.
RAJUK Chairman Abdur Rahman was not available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him by phone.