Govt itself violating building rules
No government building including those built by Public Works Department (PWD) has taken approval from authorities concerned since 1987, which is mandatory under the Building Construction (BC) Act of 1952 and subsequent building rules.
The PWD had enjoyed an exemption from such approval till 1987 but an amendment after that made the approval mandatory before construction of a building as it applies to other organisations and individuals.
The government, a year back, delegated the authority to the chief architect of the Department of Architecture to approve only the PWD buildings, but to no avail.
The PWD constructs most of the government buildings under the public works ministry known to be the custodian of the BC act, building rules and Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC).
Public institutions, apart from PWD, that construct buildings on their own include education ministry, universities, CMMU of health ministry, food department, power development board, BTTB, youth and sports ministry.
ASM Ismail, chief architect of the Department of Architecture, said that the BC act is applicable to all kinds of constructions.
“The objective of the BC act is to prevent unplanned and haphazard constructions of buildings,” said Ismail.
Within Dhaka metropolitan area, Town Improvement (TI) Act of 1953 requires institutions or individuals to obtain clearance for the use of land (planning approval) while the BC act requires them to obtain approval from the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).
The BC Act does not exempt armed forces but they construct their buildings under the Cantonment Act of 1924 and by-laws of 1985.
At present Rajuk in Dhaka, KDA in Khulna, CDA in Chittagong and RDA in Rajshahi hold the authority to enforce the BC act while the rest 60 districts have, in fact, no such development authorities to ensure its implementation.
In many cases local government bodies like the municipality approves building construction, he said.
The government of General Ershad by a gazette notification of SRO no344-L/85 on 31st July 1985 made the BC act mandatory for 170 upazilas.
PWD Chief Engineer Rafiqul Islam Chowdhury said, “It has become a tradition for PWD not to take any approval.”
There is no record about how many buildings PWD has built so far, he said adding, “Rajuk has also accepted it.”
Rajuk Chairman Nurul Huda expressed his ignorance about it saying that he had just taken over the office.
Shahjahan Patwary, chief engineer of education ministry's engineering department, said that they mainly construct academic buildings for school, colleges and universities.
“We approve our buildings,” he said adding, “But we are not authorised to issue any approval under the BC act.”
Rajuk has currently decided to demolish more than two thousand deviant under-construction private buildings in the city.
Rajuk director (development control) Sheikh Abdul Mannan said, “We cannot demolish or take legal action against a government-owned building for non-compliance.”
Mubasshar Hussain, president of the Institute of Architects, Bangladesh said, “The government does not hold the moral authority to apply a law on a private individual if it itself violates the rule.”
State Minister for Housing and Public Works Abdul Mannan Khan said, “Irregularity has become the rule in our country.”
He said that he was trying his level best to ensure compliance of the relevant laws in this regard.