Vol. 4 Num 298 Wed. March 31, 2004  
Star City

Days of bad buildings are numbered

At least 726 structures under two zones of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) have been identified as vulnerable because of their age and decaying conditions.

Urban Planning Department (UPD) of the DCC branded those structures vulnerable after a detailed study. The survey was conducted in two of the ten DCC zones and was completed last month. It covered ward 71 and 72 of old Dhaka which include Siddique Bazar, Shakhari Bazar and Khilgaon, Mathertek areas. The UPD's study team is continuing the survey in seven more wards.

"Number of vulnerable structures will increase as land owners often do not follow the National Building Code 1993 while erecting the structures. They are also very indifferent to the safety aspect," said a senior engineer of DCC.

"Common tendency among most land owners is to construct the building as quickly as possible and that too at a low cost. That often leaves the structure at risk of being fragile," the engineer said. "Rajuk is the concerned authority for checking the situation but it has ignored this for a long time," he added.

According to the 1983 Dhaka City Corporation Ordinance, the DCC is responsible for demolishing all vulnerable structures. At first the DCC will ask the owner of the structure to bring it down. If the owner does not comply, the DCC will then destroy it and the owner has to pay the cost of demolition along with annual taxes.

The identified vulnerable structures are between 30 and 350 years old. They vary from one-story buildings to multistoried ones. Even some modern multistoried buildings were found vulnerable. The DCC has a plan to demolish the vulnerable buildings after completing a survey of the whole city. The plan is in its initial stages and implementation depends on a number of factors, sources said.

"These 726 structures are so vulnerable that a moderate scale earthquake can crumble an entire area. Some of them could give away at any time," said an official of DCC who was in the survey team.

"Most of the buildings in the city hardly have any space between one another. If one vulnerable structure collapses, it could prompt a chain-reaction with adjacent buildings at high risk. It could have

catastrophic consequences," the official feared.

The survey was conducted on the basis of two criteria of vulnerability: Age and condition.

"We found many structures very old and seemingly vulnerable, but the soil and geological conditions still kept them standing," said a top official of UPD.

"We hope to complete the survey of the entire city very soon, and we will then propose the Mayor to take steps against the vulnerable buildings ," the UPD official said.

Some old buildings at Shakhari Bazar in Old Dhaka. PHOTO: Star File Photo