HC verdict overlooked
Despite a High Court order on Rajuk and municipal corporations to ensure construction of structures in line with approved designs and use of quality materials, they confine their role to approving designs only.
Following a writ petition, the HC on November 3, 2011 asked the government to set up a designated agency within a year to enforce the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC), a guideline for construction of buildings.
For the interim period, the HC bench designated the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) and municipal corporations to enforce the BNBC and asked them to submit a report to the court every three months.
Three rights bodies -- Safety and Rights Society, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, and Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation -- had filed the writ petition on January 27, 2008 as public interest litigation.
Tamim Hossain, lawyer for the petitioners, told The Daily Star that the government was yet to form any agency, while Rajuk or municipal corporations had not submitted any quarterly report to the HC.
On the pretext that it lacks sufficient manpower, Rajuk has shirked its responsibility for ensuring the use of quality materials, leading to construction of thousands of unsafe structures in many areas.
Union parishads and municipalities have been approving design plans for high-rises without having any qualified team of safety experts, architects, engineers or town planners, leaving scope for serious flaws in structures.
Rajuk Chief Engineer Emdadul Islam said it had been made mandatory to mention the names of the individuals or developers and their architects and engineers in the application for any design's approval.
And all of them have to follow the construction guidelines and ensure the use of quality materials, otherwise they will face legal action, he said.
The situation is worse in areas outside Rajuk's purview where the process of approving designs is flawed in most cases. And its glaring example is nine-storey Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24 in Savar, leaving more than 350 people dead and several hundred wounded.
Officials of Savar municipality said the owner of Rana Plaza had submitted a layout plan to it in 2008, and the municipality approved that.
The municipality has a small wing with only two engineers for approving layout plans.
Alam Mia, sub-assistant engineer of Savar municipality, said they were only responsible for the approval of Rana Plaza's layout plan, not the supervision of its construction.
"It was up to the site engineer or architects to ensure the use of quality construction materials," he told The Daily Star.