Vol. 5 Num 891 Wed. November 29, 2006  
Star City

Bangladesh National Building Code
Violators to face 7 years behind bars with hefty fines

The much talked-about Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) of 1993 has finally come into effect with a gazette notification issued on November 15.

The Building Construction Act of 1952 provides for punishment with seven years' imprisonment or a fine of Tk 50,000 or both in case of violation of the BNBC and the Building Construction Rules of 2006.

A uniform code, the BNBC, has been made mandatory to comply with in any building construction under The Building Construction Act of 1952 to ensure accountability in the management of overall building construction and safety of the buildings.

A meeting on the BNBC, chaired by Public Works Adviser Dhiraj Kumar Nath, was held at the ministry on November 26 in which top government officials, architects, planners and environmentalists took part highlighting the benefits of the code.

"In absence of the BNBC, it was almost impossible to hold anybody responsible for a disaster because of faulty construction of buildings," said Rajuk Chief Engineer Emdadul Islam in his presentation at the meeting.

The BNBC and Metropolitan Building Construction Rules make all the professionals like architects, planners, civil engineers and geo-technical engineers involved in the process of a building construction responsible for their respective role.

Commenting on the disastrous building collapses in Savar and Tejgaon, Emdadul said that non-engineering construction work, overloading and change in use were the reasons behind the disasters, as no professional architects and engineers were involved with construction of those buildings.

Terming the provision of Tk 50,000 fine to punish the offenders as 'inconsistent' with the present day socio-economic condition, Vice-chairman of the Urban Development Committee Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed said, "The amount of fine must be increased."

The compactness of urban development depends on the firmness of foundation of the buildings, he said.

"We have to have a culture of good practice in the construction to make the BNBC effective," said Vice-chancellor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) Dr AMM Shafiullah, suggesting formulation of a code of practice to implement the BNBC.

The BNBC comprehensively requires classification of buildings as per usages, structural design, load assessment, foundation, precautionary measures, safety aspects, fire exit, air ventilation and other provisions.

The experts present at the meeting said that any building constructed in compliance with the BNBC would be safe, durable and economic. The code clearly keeps provisions for earthquake resistant measures in any building.

Following recurrent earthquake disasters in the neighbouring Pakistan and India, earthquake experts have time and again called for extensive modification of quake resistance measures in the BNBC.

Headed by chief architect of the Department of Architecture, a 22-member National Steering Committee formed by public works ministry one and a half years ago on updating the BNBC has laid emphasis on updating the earthquake resistant mechanism.

Bangladesh Earthquake Society has so far suggested ground (soil) improvement, foundation detailing, code of practice in earthquake resistant designing and retrofitting of all the buildings of high public interest.

Public Works Department wants incorporation of seismic micro-zonation mapping and practice of American Concrete Institute (ACI) code while the Geological Survey of Bangladesh has suggested incorporation of fault line mapping.

A steering committee, headed by chief architect of the Department of Architecture, was formed in 1991 to frame the proposed BNBC.

A group professional architects, engineers, planners and other professionals under the supervision of the National Steering Committee came up with the BNBC in 1993.

Initially, a government circular was issued asking the builders to follow the code as a good practice in construction but it failed to make the code effective.

Later on, the government took initiatives to make the code enforceable under The Building Construction (Amendment) Act of 2006.

Rajuk Chairman KAM Haroon, Public Works Secretary SM Zafrullah, Rehab President Abdul Awal, Brac University Vice-chancellor Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, President of the Institute Architects Bangladesh Khadem Ali, President of the Planners Institute of Bangladesh Dr Toufiq M Seraj, among others, spoke at the works ministry meeting.

Will the laws streamline city's chaotic growth?. PHOTO: STAR