Housing minister SM Rezaul Karim on Wednesday announced that punitive actions would be taken against 36 officials of the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, including a former chairman, for their reported involvement in the illegal expansion of FR Tower at Banani.
The minister made the announcement launching reports on the probe into irregularities in the expansion of FR Tower, which caught fire on March 28 that killed 27 people, including a Sri Lankan and a firefighter, at a press conference at the ministry.
Disciplinary actions will be taken against officials still in service at Rajuk, he said, adding that the ministry would request the public admin ministry to take action against those posted at other ministries or agencies.
‘Legal actions will be taken against those who went into retirement or on pre-retirement leave,’ the minister said.
The probe committee formed by the ministry accused 29 Rajuk officials, including the then Rajuk chairman Humayun Khadem, of allowing illegal expansion of FR Tower and helping the developers in forging documents and taking bank loan against the illegally expanded part of the building.
Rajuk’s probe committee identified 32 officials, including the then chairman, member, town planner and chief engineer, for helping the developers in the illegal expansion.
Some of the officials were, however, named in both the reports.
The housing ministry, Rajuk, disaster management ministry, home ministry and fire service formed separate probe committees to investigate the cause of the FR Tower fire and to identify people responsible for the illegal expansion of the building.
The probe bodies formed by the disaster management ministry and home ministry earlier identified electrical short circuit on the seventh floor of the building as the cause of fire.
The committees also recommended identifications and punishments of the people responsible for the illegal expansion of the building with ‘so many design errors.’
They also recommended vigilance of other high-rise buildings and corrective measures for avoiding any more tragic incident.
The eight-member committee formed by the housing ministry led by additional secretary M Yakub Ali Patwari found that the procedures were not followed while giving permission for the expansion of the building from 15-storey to 18-storey in 1996.
The committee accused former Rajuk chairman Humayun Khadem and authorised officer Makbul Ahammad of flouting the procedures in giving the permission.
They intentionally followed weaker rules of Bangladesh National Building Code 1984 while the code updated in 1996 was in effect just to give advantage to the FR Tower owners to get permission with lesser setback in two sides of the building and going beyond the height limit for Banani set by civil aviation authority.
Developer of the building Rupayan Housing Estate without any approved plan expanded it to 23 storeys and forged documents such as building plan and bank deposit cheque against Rajuk account and others, found the probe committee.
Though land owner SMHI Faruque officially informed Rajuk about the illegal expansion of the building by the developer in 2005, he cannot avoid responsibilities as he later took benefits from the expansion, the probe committee observed.
It committee accused Rajuk officials of taking no action against the illegal expansion of the building even after getting official information from the land owner.
The Rajuk officials rather gave permission to take bank loan mortgaging the illegally expanded 19th, 20th and 21st floors, it said.
The probe committee accused Rupayan and Rajuk officials, including authorised officer Syed Nazmul Huda and assistant authorised officer Bashiruddin Khan, of creating false plan of the building forging signature of architect Asma Hafiz.
The committee accused 20 Rajuk officials of cooperation during the illegal expansion in 2005-08.
They were the then chief building inspectors M Mahbubur Rahman Sarkar and M Abdul Gani, and inspectors M Aurangajeb Siddiqui, M Awlad Hossain, M Abu Musa, M Nazrul Islam, M Sirajul Islam, M Abdus Sattar, M Billal Hossain, M Ali Azam Mia, M Mostafa Zaman, M Nur Alam, M Jalal Uddin, Surat Ali Russel, M Siraj, M Shawkat Ali, Imrul Kabir, Ilias Mia, M Nazrul Islam and M Khairuzzaman.
The committee found the then Rajuk member estate M Rezaul Karim Tarafdar, director M Shamsul Alam, senior assistant secretary Muhammad Shawkat Ali, assistant directors Shah M Badrul Alam and Jahanara Begum and computer operator Mujibur Rahman Mollah responsible for allowing the developers to mortgage the illegally expanded floors to take bank loan.
The five-member Rajuk committee led by its director Khandaker Aliour Rahman found six former senior Rajuk officials — chairman Humayun Khadem, member DM Bepari, town planner Zakir Hossain, chief engineer M Saidur Rahman, authorised officer Syed Maqbul Ahmed, assistant director Muhammad Ullah — land owner Faruque responsible for the illegal expansion.
It found 24 officials responsible for manipulating register and records, forging documents and allowing the owners to mortgage expanded floors to take bank loan.
They are former authorised officers Syed Maqbul Ahmed, ATM Kamruzzaman Khan and Nazmul Huda, former assistant authorised officers M Badruzzaman Mia and Bashiruddin Khan, building inspectors Imrul Kabir and Shawkat Ali, upper division clerks Muhammad Abdur Rahman and M Shafiullah, lower divison clerk Mujibur Rahman Mollah, caretakers Jahanara Begum and Mofazzal Hossain, subject inspector M Meheruzzaman, assistant director Shah M Sadrul Alam, deputy director Mohammad Shawkat Ali, director M Shamsul Alam, member estate M Rezaul Karim Tarfdar, assistant director M Emdad Ali Biswas, deputy director Muhammad Shawkat Ali, director Abduallah Al Baqi, the then member AYM Golam Kibria, computer operator M Enamul Haque and inspector M Nazrul Islam.
It found that the then authorised officers Dewan M Yamin, Nazmul Huda, M Shamsur Rahman and Mahbub Hossain Sarkar, assistant authorised officers Bashiruddin Khan and inspectors Awrangazeb Siddiqui and Nazrul Islam were negligent in monitoring that caused the irregularities in the construction of the tower.
It found that the emergency exit and firefighting system of FR Tower breached the plan for which the committee accused FR Tower Owners’ Society of negligence.
For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, a case was filed against the FR Tower owners on charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing death by negligence, the minister said.
He also said that none would be spared though many accused officials were now serving as additional secretary and joint secretaries.
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