Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha yesterday started knocking down the much-talked-about BGMEA Bhaban, which was constructed illegally over a decade ago.
Rajuk officials said the 16-storey building was partially blocking Hatirjheel’s water flow in the capital and that it would be demolished in six months.
The building is also like a “tumour on the beauty of Hatirjheel”, Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim said while inaugurating the demolition work on the ground floor.
“Gradually, all illegal structures will be removed from the Hatirjheel,” he said after making a hole on the floor with a drill machine.
Rajuk took the initiative to pull down the building in October last year but failed as Messrs Four Star Enterprise, which was hired for the demolition, expressed reluctance to do the work.
The company showed the reluctance after the city development authority allowed the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to take ACs, generators, furniture and other items from the building, said Rajuk sources.
Earlier, Rajuk Chief Engineer ASM Raihanul Ferdous told The Daily Star that the company had been given six months to complete the demolition.
As per an arrangement, the company was supposed to take all the furniture, electronic equipment and other materials from the building, demolish the structure and pay Rajuk Tk 1.55 crore at the end of the work.
But after Rajuk allowed the BGMEA to take the furniture, ACs and generators, the company would now give the development authority Tk 1.02 crore, said Rajuk sources.
The High Court had given the owner three deadlines to vacate the building. The latest deadline expired on April 12 last year.
On April 16, Rajuk went to the BGMEA Bhaban along with policemen and bulldozers, apparently to knock down the building.
People were, however, still inside and the authorities had to pull out for the day. The building was then sealed off.
Talking to reporters at the BGMEA Bhaban yesterday, Housing Minister Rezaul Karim said they were demolishing the building as per a High Court verdict. “All formalities are being done so that there are no legal complications.”
He said two teams were working to monitor the work. One of the teams is comprised of representatives from Buet, fire service, army and Urban planning experts, while the other was from Rajuk.
The debris would be removed immediately and eventually dumped somewhere outside the city, he said.
Asked, the minister said they ensured all safety measures for the demolition.
He said they were using the traditional method of demolition as the modern one might cause damage to adjacent buildings as well as pollute the environment.
“With the completion of the work, the water flow of Hatirjheel will finally be restored,” he added.
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 HC 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 the demolition of the illegal building. 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” as it blocked water flow between Hatirjheel lake and Begunbari canal.
Contacted, BGMEA President Rubana Huq yesterday said they respect the court’s verdict. “Topmost priority should be given on safety while demolishing the building,” she said.
The association has already shifted its headquarters to the capital’s Uttara.