Demolition of the much-talked-about BGMEA Bhaban -- constructed illegally over a decade ago -- began in full swing yesterday, after power connection was restored to the building.
After nearly a year-long delay, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) began demolition of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association building on January 22.
Rajuk said the 16-storey building would be demolished in six months. The capital's development authority hired Messrs Four Star Enterprise, a local company, which began the work on January 27 due to some legal bindings.
However, demolition work had been continuing at a snail's pace until yesterday, as the company did not get any power connection at the building to use heavy machinery -- due to a pending electricity bill of BGMEA with Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC).
Four Star had to depend on two generators, which slowed down the entire process. "Finally, the issue has been resolved with intervention of the authorities concerned," said Nasrullah Khan Rashed, its director.
He said they have got a 440-volt power line and will continue working to complete the demolition within six months.
Contacted, Md Sayeed Noor Alam, chairman of Rajuk, told The Daily Star yesterday that the chief engineer discussed the issue with DPDC officials to reach an understanding.
The power was restored around 5pm.
BGMEA had a pending bill of Tk 2.57 lakh with DPDC, for which DPDC snapped the connection earlier. Rajuk took the money from BGMEA's deposit amount to clear the bill.
From now Four Star will pay the bill, said Rashed.
He further said, "More than 22 days have been wasted as we failed to continue our work in full swing. We could not run many equipment as generators could not handle the load."
"Still, we continued our work... Every day, we had to pay around Tk 5,000 for the generators' fuel cost. We lost a substantial amount of money already," he said. "We still hope the work will be finished by six months."
He said they are removing debris on a daily basis so that there is no chance of an accident like the Rangs Bhaban, which caved in on the city's Bijoy Sarani during demolition in 2007. "We are removing debris by trucks at night."
About starting the work on January 27, Rashed said, "We were yet to get permission from DPDC and Wasa, as a change in ownership was required. Without power and water, we weren't able to function properly."
According to Rajuk, the BGMEA building was partially blocking Hatirjheel's water flow.
This building is like a "tumour on the beauty of Hatirjheel", immediate past Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim had said while inaugurating the demolition work on the ground floor. "Gradually, all illegal structures will be removed from Hatirjheel," he had said.
Rajuk took the initiative to pull down the building in October last year but failed as Four Star expressed reluctance to do the work.
The company showed the reluctance after the city development authority allowed BGMEA to take ACs, generators, furniture and other items from the building, said Rajuk sources.
AT A GLANCE
On November 28, 1998, the then prime minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the building, which was inaugurated by the then prime minister Khaleda Zia on October 8, 2006.
Later, it was found that the building was constructed illegally.
Following a news report published on October 3 in 2010, an High Court bench issued a suo-moto rule on the authorities concerned asking why the building should not be demolished.
On April 3, 2011, a HC bench ordered its demolition. Two days later, the Appellate Division, however, 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 in three months. The court also directed the BGMEA to refund money to the buyers of floor space within a year.
In April last year, an Appellate Division bench ordered the BGMEA building be demolished after April 12. The court termed the building "a cancer in the Hatirjheel project".
On April 16, Rajuk went to there along with law enforcers and bulldozers. People were, however, still inside and the authorities had to pull out for the day. The building was then sealed off.