FR Tower: It had no approval above 18 storey
The controversial 23-storey FR Tower in the capital’s Banani had no approval for floors above 18, said Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim yesterday, citing findings of a ministerial probe committee.
The building’s 23-storey plan was created by a corrupt cartel through forgery, said the report that identified 24 Rajuk officials, including three authorised officers, liable for efforts to give legitimacy to illegal floors and for mortgage for bank loans.
The eight-member probe committee, led by Additional Secretary Md Yakub Ali Patwary, has held 39 officials of the public works ministry and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha responsible for the gross building anomaly in the FR Tower, Rezaul told a press conference at the ministry.
All the officials found liable will be brought to book, he said.
On March 27, at least 27 people were killed in the FR Tower fire.
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According to the probe committee findings, the 15-storey multipurpose commercial FR Tower building plan approved in 1990 was fine.
But the approval of 18-storey residential-slash-commercial building plan in 1996 was in violation of the buildings rules as 2.5-metre open space on two sides and the rear was not kept and it went beyond the 155-feet height limit set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
For the 18-storey building, Rajuk approved 193 feet.
The 23-storey building plan submitted by Rupayan Housing Estate Ltd in 2005 was illegal, said the probe report, adding that despite building owners’ application for removal of illegal floors beyond 18-storey, the Rajuk authorities did nothing.
Ministerial permission and Rajuk’s approval for mortgage against the top three illegal floors were inappropriate.
Six Rajuk officials, including then chairman Humayun Khadem, have been found liable for approving the building’s 18-storey plan in violation of the building rules in force then.
Other Rajuk officials held responsible were one Rajuk board member, the then town planner, chief engineer, authorised officer, and assistant authorised officer. The lease holder of the tower’s plot no-32, Syed Md Hossain Imam Faruq, too has been held responsible.
Rajuk despite knowing in 2007 that the FR Tower had illegal floors and had deviated from the approved plan, turned a blind eye and remained silent, said the report.
The probe committee identified Rajuk’s two chief building inspectors and 18 inspectors liable for failing to prevent the construction of the illegal floors and the structure ignoring the approved plan.
It has also held nine Rajuk officials, including two authorised officers and an executive engineer, responsible for negligence of duty that helped plan deviations.
The committee recommended removing the building’s illegal portion not permissible by the CAAB or sealing it off permanently and taking legal actions against those responsible, including authorised officers, building inspectors, and the then Rajuk chairman.
On then Rajuk chairman Humayun’s instructions, Authorised Officer Mokbul Ahmed, who had expressed reservation in approving the plan under the old rules of 1984, approved it though the plan was being approved after the enactment of 1996 rules, a member of the probe committee said earlier.
Humayun, who is now over 80 years old, went into retirement more than 20 years ago.
He is suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease, his son Raiyan Khadem had said, adding that his father could neither speak nor recognise people.
Contacted again yesterday, Raiyan said his father’s condition remained the same.
“I have nothing to say,” he said, adding, “I am only curious how far my father is really liable for this building anomaly because it is unbearable for me that my father’s name is being slurred in the last days of his life.”