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Dhaka Tribune

Who are to blame for design faults?

Update : 28 Apr 2013, 06:37 AM

The government have been allowing three local government bodies – municipalities, union parishads (UPs) and city corporations – to approve the construction and design of buildings even though they have no expertise to carry out such responsibilities.

The municipalities and UPs are frequently issuing approvals for constructing buildings without any design while the owners are continuously erecting buildings with their own ideas, mostly improvised, violating the government rules and terms, experts and different rights groups claim while blaming Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) for negligence.

They also alleged that apart from the municipalities and the UPs, all the city corporations including Dhaka are also allowing designs without carrying out proper monitoring and supervision activities. It is a gross violation of Bangladesh National Building Code, Building Construction Act as well as the Detailed Area Plan (Dap).

Architect and environmentalist Iqbal Habib yesterday told the Dhaka Tribune: “It is a concerning issue that the government gave permission to every municipality and union parishad to approve designs of buildings without arranging experts for those bodies.”

He pointed that According to the National Building Code, the permission are to be given by the upazila parishads, not the municipalities and the UPs. “We have been expressing our concerns at different times over these types of government decisions,” he said.

The Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) was prepared in 1993 to regulate the technical details of building construction and maintaining standard. It follows the Building Construction Act 1952.

The BNBC was first updated in 2006. But following a High Court rule in 2008, the present government in 2009 took a two-year-long project to revise it further. Though the time is over, the process is still underway. The steering committee of the BNBC said that it would be complete by this year.

The main objective of the code is to ensure safe habitation through regulating all activities related to buildings – planning, design and construction. It also aims at ensuring a standard practice in planning, design, construction aspects as well as service facilities such as electrical, mechanical, sanitary and other services.

Habib further said most of the municipalities and every UP in the country approve the so-called building designs and allow the owners to make those buildings with their own ideas. “The government has no effective initiatives to monitor these schemes. So it is natural that tragedies or events like Savar building collapse would recur.”

He also added: “Rajuk cannot avoid the liability for the incident since Savar falls under its Dap area.”

In different times, Habib claimed that the buildings in Dhaka and its adjacent areas, namely Rana Plaza, Spectrum sweater factory, five-storey building in Begunbari, Nawab Katra of Nimtoli and Phoenix garments, had collapsed for violating the building code.

Moreover, according to Dap, which was established first in the year of 2010 and revised in 2012, the areas in and around the capital – Savar, Keraniganj, Demra, Narayanganj and Gazipur – are under Dap, and Rajuk is supposed to approve the designs for constructing buildings and other infrastructures.

Sheikh Abdul Mannan, member of Rajuk’s planning division, told the Dhaka Tribune: “The responsibility of Rajuk is only to give approval of designs while that of monitoring and supervision lie with the local government bodies – city corporation, municipality and the union parishad.”

Rajuk Chairman Nurul Huda said the regulator could not oversee the issue properly due to manpower shortage. He, however, hoped that they would soon divide the Dap area into seven parts to ensure proper monitoring and supervision of the construction activities.

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