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Building code violation: A threat forever

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11th-Apr-2019       
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AFTER a series of deadly fire incidents in the capital, the Anti-Corruption Commission plans to ask the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) whether they had taken any action against the owners of 6,204 buildings built violating approved designs between 1997 and 2013. The March 28 fire in 23-storey FR Tower at Banani in Dhaka that killed 27 people prompted the Commission to make the decision as a joint team of the ACC and RAJUK spotted the 6,204 buildings without approved designs.
In 2013, a Commission team led by its Deputy Director SM Sahidur Rahman found that a good number of high profile developers, business groups and political leaders ignored the building code while constructing buildings in posh areas of the capital. The team found that over 90 per cent high-rises were erected in the city and its adjoining areas without mandatory clearance from the Department of Environment while 94 per cent of buildings were built without fire safety certificate in 1997-2013. In the first six-month of 2018, RAJUK conducted a survey on 195,376 building in 1,528 square kilometres. The survey found that 131,583 of the buildings were built violating the approved designs while 3,342 under construction buildings were also deleted for violation of the approved designs.
Following instructions from Housing and Public Works Minister after the Banani fire, 24 Rajuk teams started drives on April 1 to find out multi-storeyed buildings constructed flouting the National Building Code. Urban planners blamed the government for 'sleeping in the past nine years just like Rip Van Winkle' and taking no action to create the National Building Code Enforcement Agency as directed by the High Court on October 13, 2010. The High Court in a verdict had asked the government to create the agency in one year and until then directed the existing authorities to enforce the building code across the country.
According to existing Building Construction Act, 1952, if an offender is punished he or she will receive seven years of imprisonment. But there is no example of enforcing the law. Besides, if any unauthorised 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. Now we will see what the ACC will do.

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