Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk)—the capital development authority—finally began demolition of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building this noon.
Public Works and Housing Minister SM Rezaul Karim inaugurated the demolition activities of the BMGEA building in Hatirjheel of Dhaka around 12:35pm, our staff correspondent reports from the spot.
The minister inaugurated the demolition works by using a drill machine.
After the inauguration, the minister told reporters that this building was constructed in an unplanned and unlawful way, which was harmful for the environment as well as for the city.
He said it is a “tumour” on the beauty of the Hatijheel.
Rezaul said they had taken necessary steps following the verdict of the High Court and they maintained all formalities so that no legal fault is created centering the demolition.
He said the highest bidder, who won the bid, showed his inability and they gave the duty of demolition to the second highest bidder.
“Two teams have been formed to look after the demolition work. One team comprising representatives of BUET, Rajuk, Fire Service and Army and Urban planning experts who will monitor the work round the clock,” he said.
Another team of Rajuk will monitor the work regular basis, he added.
According to Rajuk, it may take six months to complete the demolition of the building. Four Star, a local company, has been awarded the rights to complete the work.
Last year in April, Rajuk took the responsibility to demolish the building—which used to be the BGMEA headquarters—following a court order.
However, Rajuk was forced to delay the project as the bidding process for the rights to demolish the building was drawn out.
On April 16 last year, Rajuk arrived with the police and bulldozers in what seemed to be an attempt to bring down the BGMEA complex, which is built on a canal in Hatirjheel.
Eventually, the demolition was called off as authorities found that office bearers were still residing in the building. The office bearers were given a day to vacate and the building was sealed off.
The then prime minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the building on November 28, 1998.
On October 8, 2006, the then prime minister Khaleda Zia inaugurated the 15-storey BGMEA premises but only afterwards was it found that it was constructed illegally.
Following a report on October 3, 2010, a High Court (HC) bench issued a suo moto rule to the authorities, asking why the structure should not be torn down.
On April 3, 2011, an HC bench ordered the demolition of the illegal building—however, two days later, the Appellate Division stayed the order for six weeks and asked the BGMEA to file a leave to appeal petition against the verdict.
On March 19, 2013, the HC in its verdict ordered the relevant authorities to demolish the building within three months.
The court, in the verdict, directed the BGMEA to provide refunds for the buyers of floor space in the building within a year.
In April last year, the appellate bench of the Supreme Court ordered the BGMEA building be demolished after April 12 this year.
The court termed the erection as ‘a cancer on the Hatirjheel project’ as it blocked water flow between Hatirjheel lake and the Begunbari canal.
The BGMEA building, constructed on two bighas of land, has a total space of 2.66 lakh square feet; the association owned 1.40 lakh square feet of this space. The rest was sold, leased or rented out to different individuals or companies.
The main building had several conveniences such as restaurants, a gymnasium, swimming pool, conference rooms and two-storey basement car parking. The total value of the building is estimated at more than Tk 300 crore, according to BGMEA.