Commercial Use of Basements

Rajuk restores some parking spaces

Rajuk yesterday reclaimed basement parking spaces of a handful of buildings in Gulshan, Dhanmondi, and Uttara and sealed off illegal commercial set ups there during mobile court eviction drives.

The drive, launched simultaneously as part of a fortnight-long effort to recover car-park spaces illegally being used for other purposes and remove illegal access ramps on footpaths and streets, was throttled yesterday allegedly by the lobbying of powerful quarters.

The first day of the drive was delayed by four hours and had started after 1:00pm, as “the top authority held back the drive”, said officials on condition of anonymity.

“We don't understand what to do, it is difficult when higher authorities order us to evict the illegal occupiers in buildings and then ask us to put it on hold,” said one of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) authorised officers who was in the eviction team.

Along the Mirpur Road in Dhanmondi, a team evicted shops and other commercial set ups in the basement parking spaces of six buildings and sealed off shops and a convention centre at Happy Arcade.

They fined two banks Tk 1 lakh and Tk 50,000 for not having appropriate parking facilities, said AZ Shafiul Hannan, relevant Rajuk authorised officer. 

About approval of disputed building plans and endorsing basements for commercial use, Hannan said such cases would be taken to the higher authorities for decisions.  

Yesterday's drive there started around 2:00pm from Science Laboratory end along the west side of Mirpur Road and ended in Kalabagan.  

Rajuk Executive Magistrate Md Nasir Uddin led the Dhanmondi drive.  

Khandokar Zakir Hossain, the executive magistrate who led the Uttara drive, said they could dismantle only one illegal set up in a basement and four illegal ramps due to the delayed start of the drive. 

They carried out the eviction drive from House Building towards Abdullahpur. The drive would continue today from the Rab office end in Uttara-4, he said.     

Md Abdul Hamid Mian, the executive magistrate who led the Gulshan drive, said they removed illegal ramps encroaching on Gulshan Road-1, -2 and -3 and fined a building owner Tk 1 lakh for illegal occupancy.  

Md Mizanur Rahman, Uttara authorised officer, earlier told The Daily Star that around 60 percent buildings in Uttara, Dhanmondi, Gulshan, and Banani were not using their designated parking spaces and were using them for shops, restaurants, offices, and clinics.

The drives would continue until February 4 except during the weekends, said the officials.

A Housing and Public Works Ministry meeting chaired by Minister Mosharraf Hossain on November 22 decided to free all basement car parks from illegal occupancy to help resolve the horrendous traffic problem of the city.  

The meeting concluded that random on-the-street parking was a consequence of illegal occupancy of car parks in the basements of buildings.

The meeting decided that actions would also be taken against illegal commercialisation of residential buildings with shops, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, spas, massage parlours, clinics, and schools.

As to why Rajuk allowed such practices to go on for years, Rajuk Chairman GM Joynal Abedin Bhuiyan had earlier said he would not respond to what had happened in the past.


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