The Rajuk knew that the FR Tower in Banani was built in 2007 with illegal floors and in deviation of the approved plan, but it turned a blind eye to the matter, Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim said yesterday.
He expressed frustration that although the matter was detected, the Rajuk high-ups didn't bother about correcting it in the subsequent years.
“The unbridled greed of the building owners, the developer and some Rajuk officials led to the fire tragedy at FR Tower that killed 26 innocent people,” the minister said at a Meet the Press event at Dhaka Reports Unity.
But the capital city must not be turned into a “valley of death” due to some greedy people, Rezaul said.
He said officials of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) sometimes issue several notices for a negligible offence, but they remain silent on major violations of laws.
A high-level probe committee was working on determining the liability for the FR Tower inferno, which occurred due to negligence of some people, and the Rajuk officials concerned would also be held equally responsible, the minister told the programme, organised by Dhaka Utility Reporters Association.
At least 26 people were killed and 70 others injured in the deadly fire at the 23-storey FR Tower on March 28.
The minister said the High Court issued stay orders on over 3,000 Rajuk eviction notices, served on errant building owners, and those didn't specifically mention the offences of the owners.
“The Rajuk has so far fought legal battles with a panel of incompetent and inefficient lawyers. This has to end now with the appointment of a qualified new panel.”
Although there is a tradition of keeping countless probe reports undisclosed, the government this time will make the findings of the FR Tower fire probe public through the mass media, Rezaul added.
He said they would hold meetings to discuss the probe findings and decide the next course of action.
The public works minister said the offenders would be identified this time. “No one is more powerful than the law of the land.”
As many as 24 Rajuk inspection teams were carrying out surveys on city buildings, he said, adding that all the buildings would be surveyed in phases.
The non-complaint buildings, including those using car parks commercially, would be given a deadline to rectify the deviations and clear the car parks, said the minister.
The two city corporations must check the issuance of trade licences and the building users have to play their part too by checking the safety features, he said.
According to the minister, the government has taken a redevelopment scheme to replace the dilapidated buildings in Old Dhaka with new ones to ensure safe living conditions.
He said the prime minister has given an instruction in this regard and he already discussed the issue with the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation.
Rezaul said the government was going to publish the amended Bangladesh National Building Code in a week or two in a gazette.