Tuesday, May 24

Illegal buildings mushroom in Rajuk areas

Rafiqul Islam Azad: It has taken about three months for the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) to serve the final notice to halt construction of an unauthorised building in Tongi, which falls under the regulatory body’s Detailed Area Plan (DAP).

In the meantime, the builder went ahead with the illegal construction by completing the roof on the third floor, effectively throwing dust in the eyes of Rajuk and police. The authorities concerned, however, are yet to take any visible action either to stop construction or to demolish the illegal structure at 200 Lal Miah Madbor Road of Arichpur, Tongi Bazar.

The building is allegedly coming up by putting at risk other constructions in the area, which may lead to an accident anytime.

Another unauthorised building has come up unhindered at Konapara in Demra area by encroaching on a public road in such a way that people cannot move through it. One Abdur Rouf Bhuiyan lodged a complaint that the building owner allegedly did not take permission from Rajuk.

An unauthorised five-storey building is also coming up at Purba Bhatara by encroaching on the footpath, ignoring opposition from the public. No engineer or consultant was engaged for the building’s construction and that is why it may collapse any day, according to a complaint lodged by one Zakaria Karim with Rajuk.

The alleged reluctance of Rajuk to take action has raised questions among owners of neighbouring buildings and residents as to how illegal construction was going on under the very nose of the administration.

Construction of such unauthorised buildings are booming particularly inside the DAP regions—Tongi, Narayanganj and Savar—as the authorities have failed to take timely steps.

Rajuk officials said such unauthorised buildings were coming up because of a nexus between some influential people and unscrupulous officials in those particular areas.

In most cases, the officials cited a dearth of manpower and the collusion of law enforcement personnel as the reasons for their failure to stop the mushrooming growth of illegal structures.

The dearth of monitoring of the development process was another reason behind the boom of illegal buildings, the officials said. According to records, Rajuk issued the final notice to the builders of Tongi building on January 14 to remove the illegal structure within seven days. The builder, however, is going ahead rapidly with the construction, ignoring the notice.

The notice, copies of which were also served to other agencies, including Tongi police station, power, gas and WASA offices in Dhaka, stated that the construction of the building without a Rajuk-approved design was contrary to Section 3/B of the 1952 Building Construction Act and showed disrespect to the law.

The builder, who is going ahead with the construction by endangering another building, which has an authorised construction, is now trying to get Rajuk’s approval to regularise the unauthorised construction by allegedly bribing some unscrupulous officials.

Rajuk sources said one Motiur Rahman Chowdhury was constructing the building with the help of an unknown real estate developer, Jony Properties.

“The building is being constructed without taking any plan from the authority, in violation of the building code, and endangering my building by digging a huge hole adjacent to it and inserting the foundation base through under its beams (columns),” building owner Md Ishaq Miah said in his complaint.

Besides Rajuk, Ishaq has also lodged complaints with Tongi police station and Gazipur City Corporation. But none of these authorities has taken any effective action to stop the construction, the complainant said.

He alleged that when Rajuk officials went for an inspection of the site, they were chased away by the builders, who claimed that the construction was going on where the capital’s regulatory body has no authority.

Jalal Uddin, an official of Rajuk (zone-2), confirmed that he was chased by the builders and they forced him to go back when he had gone to the construction site for inspection before issuing the first notice.

Officer in charge (OC) of Tongi police station, Mizanur Rahman, said police teams had gone to stop the construction work several times, but it began the moment the policemen left the site.

The OC, however, said it was Rajuk’s job to take action against construction of such illegal structures. “If Rajuk wants a police force to be deployed, we are ready to provide it. But until and unless Rajuk gives us a written request, we cannot provide the force to take action against such construction,” he added.

Local ward councillor Giasuddin Sarker said he had not received any notice from Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) so far with respect to such an illegal construction in his area.

He, however, said the GCC has no authority to stop construction of such illegal buildings since they have no authority to approve their plans. “It is Rajuk’s business, we cannot do anything,” he added.

The councillor alleged that many illegal buildings were coming up in Tongi area without necessary approval from the authorities.

Former GCC mayor Azmat Ullah Khan also complained that there could be hundreds of illegal constructions in Tongi, which is now under Rajuk’s Detailed Area Plan.

GCC surveyor Faruq said following an application over the illegal construction, he has forwarded a file to the GCC executive engineer to serve a notice to the land-owner and the developer. The executive engineer could not be reached for his comment.

The surveyor, however, said he cannot serve any notice without the consent of the local ward councillor.

When his attention was drawn to the alleged illegal construction, the managing director of Jony Properties, Anwar Hossain, claimed that the construction area was not under Rajuk’s jurisdiction.

He claimed that they are constructing the building after receiving approval from the GCC some three years back. Asked why they did not respond to the Rajuk’s notices, he declined to make any comment.

Rajuk authorised officer-2 Mizanur Rahman said the construction site was very much under the jurisdiction of the capital’s regulatory body.

After the approval of the DAP in 2011, vast areas around Dhaka stretching up to Salna of Gazipur came under Rajuk’s jurisdiction. All construction plans need its approval.

Asked why they did not take any action so far to stop the construction of the said building, he said, “We will demolish the illegal structure very soon.”

Rajuk chairman GM Zainul Abedin Bhuiyan said, “The zonal and authorised officers are preparing the list of unauthorised buildings which are coming up everyday. We will address the problem by incorporating the new and previous lists,” he said.

The chief of the capital’s regulatory body said they needed cooperation from the local administration in taking legal action against such unauthorised buildings.

Sources said there are hundreds of thousands of unauthorised buildings, which were constructed in Dhaka city and its outskirts. Rajuk Director (development and planning) Golam Mostafa said they have no information on the exact number of such buildings.

He, however, said that there are about 1.5 lakhs unauthorised buildings alone in Dhaka-Narayanganj-Demra (DND) project area.