The capital city development authority is confident about submitting a report to the Ministry of Housing and Public Works by April 7
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), under directives from the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, will launch a crackdown on building code violators across Dhaka from mid-April.
Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune, Rajuk Director (admin) Khandaker Aliour Rahman said: “We are confident about submitting our findings on building code violations throughout Dhaka to the ministry concerned by April 7.
“Based on the inspection reports, Rajuk will take action against building owners and code violators in accordance with the existing laws, under the directive of the ministry, from mid-April. Unauthorized buildings will be demolished as part of the crackdown.”
The director also warned that Rajuk officials responsible for supervising illegal and faulty buildings will be punished.
The announcement from the capital development authority came following a warning issued by Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim on March 30, after he visited the scene of the deadly fire at FR Tower in Banani, which left a total of 26 people dead.
“Buildings found to have violated regulations will be identified within 15 days. All activities in those buildings will be suspended, and structures will be sealed off if necessary, until those violations are resolved,” Rezaul told reporters that day.
Rajuk’s challenging task
Many experts find the ministry’s plan challenging as it takes nearly a month to thoroughly inspect a building, and it might not be wise to take immediate action if an investigation is conducted hastily.
In the wake of the March 28 fire in Banani, the ministry set a fortnight deadline for Rajuk teams to submit their findings. However, the city’s housing and development regulator, which started the inspections from April 1, is confident that its teams will complete the task in just a week.
Rajuk deployed 24 teams across the capital to identify high-rise buildings that lack proper fire safety measures and those that were built in violation of construction codes.
“Usually, a span of 30 days is needed for a building to be properly inspected. However, Rajuk claims that it will get the job done in half the time,” said Dr Mehedi Ahmed Ansary of the Centre for Regional Development Studies at Buet.
Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, the immediate past director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, seconded Ansary’s statement.
“Just a week to inspect a building’s fire safety and building code issues is a very short period of time,” he observed.
The expert said that the 24 Rajuk teams are not fully capable of inspecting buildings appropriately as they have not combined fire, structure, and electrical experts together.
“I will be happy if anything positive happens because of the drives,” added Ansary.
The Rajuk director Aliour Rahman also attested to the fact, but in its defence he said: “The civil engineers and Rajuk officials working on the teams are experts themselves.”
Crime and punishment
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said if an offender is punished under Building Construction Act, 1952, he or she will receive seven years of imprisonment.
“The jail term will still be sufficient if it is implemented,” she observed.
If any unauthorized building is affected and causes deaths of people, its owner, and the officials concerned who approved its plan or gave it clearance certificates, will be responsible for the fatalities, she added.
Referring to Section 304 of the Penal Code, Rizwana said they will be charged with death due to negligence.