RAJDHANI Unnayan Kartripakkha, the agency looking after the development of the capital city, has deployed 24 teams to survey the violation of the National Building Code and other laws and rules in high rises. The teams, which visited 150 high rises at Gulshan, Banani, Uttara, Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Dhanmondi, Motijheel, Savar and Gazipur on Monday, are mandated to complete the list of building code and other deviations, including unapproved extension of buildings having 10 storeys and more, and problems in fire and other safety measures in high rises in 15 days. The move came in the wake of the fire that broke out in the 23-storey FR Tower at Banani on March 28, so far leaving 26 people dead and more than a hundred wounded. The objectives of the survey are to identify such buildings, by the stipulated time, and make the list public; on having the list at hand, the authorities would give the owners reasonable time to take corrective measures, barring which the owners would be asked to pay for the demolition of the unauthorised extension and would be prosecuted for flouting the building code. Action would also be taken against Rajuk officials found guilty of not preparing the list.
But the specified period of 15 days does not seem enough to properly enlist the buildings, even if only high rises, having such problems. Rajuk officials who are reported to have been pressed for time, therefore, as New Age reported on Tuesday, are asking the building owners, selected through the process of random sampling, to produce fire safety certificates and papers of the last fire drill. Besides, Rajuk is reported not to have any figure on the total number of city buildings having 10 or more storeys. Yet Rajuk, as an unnamed authorised officer says, does not have the expertise to measure lacks in safety measures, especially regarding the fire-fighting capacity. The public works housing minister has said that the list would be completed by the specified time and the list would be made public. While this is difficult to repose trust in the minister’s remark, especially when the government has not made public many investigation reports in the past, having the task completed in such a short time and in a perfunctory manner would hardly produce the desired results. In addition, Rajuk on a few occasions in the past surveyed city high rises, detected flaws in many of them and categorised many of them as vulnerable and risky, yet it has not taken any action against the buildings or their owners.
Rajuk appears to be waiting for some disasters to get going at work but stops short before taking any action based on its findings, until another disaster takes place. The government, in such a situation, must rise above moneyed interest and force Rajuk to do its job properly, spanning a longer period, and meaningfully, having the needed political will in place, in dealing with unapproved buildings, unlawful building extension and modification and lack of adherence to standard building protocols to make the capital city safe for people.
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