RAJUK involvement alleged in phony clearance for high-rise buildings

Under-construction high-rise in the capitalRepresentational image

After the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) was approved in order to restore livability to densely-populated Dhaka, many persons have been attempting to forge old documents for clearance to increase the height of their buildings. There are allegations that a section of RAJUK officials and employees are involved in such fraudulence.

On 23 August 2022 the government published a circular declaring its approval for the new DAP. This is to be effective until 2035. The floor-based building construction rules have been dropped from the new DAP.

Officials of RAJUK's planning department say that before DAP was introduced, the number of units in a building was not fixed. That is why high-rise buildings could be built at will on small plots of land. But the new DAP determines exactly how many units can be constructed per katha.

The new DAP determines the floor area ratio (FAR). Basically, FAR determines the size or height of a building in relation to the plot. In areas where civic amenities are good, where there are parks and open spaces and there are wide roads by the plots, the FAR standard is higher, that is, high-rise buildings can be constructed in these areas.

The FAR standard is lower in areas where the roads are narrow and civic amenities are comparatively poor. As the FAR differs from area to area, even if the size of the plot and width of the adjacent road is same, the same height building cannot be constructed in all areas. Previously if the size of the plot and width of the road was the same, the same size or height building could be constructed in any area.

In the meantime, RAJUK's town planning unit has identified seven persons involved in restoring to fraudulence. RAJUK's town planning and implementation department has filed a general diary (GD) with the Motijheel police station against these persons.

RAJUK sources say there is no specific record of exactly how many persons have resorted to faking clearance certificates in an attempt to construct their buildings. But such fraudulence is widespread. Such fraud is not possible without the assistance of RAJUK's officials and employees.

How the forgery is done

From various records it has been found out that in March 2022 permission was taken from RAJUK to construct a building on a plot of land in Basundhara residential area. The same document number was used to apply for approval to construct a building in Aftabnagar on an Eastern Housing plot. Later RAJUK scrutinised the papers and found that the clearance certificate submitted to construct the building in the Eastern Housing plot was forged.

A recent visit to the spot found that a five-storey building has already been constructed on the plot in Basundhara residential area and people are living there too.

Unless the process of approval for building construction is fixed, unplanned buildings will continue to sprout up in the capital. If this cannot be prevented, DAP will be of no use
Professor Adil Mohammed Khan, President, Bangladesh Institute of Urban Planners

In the meantime, a visit to the Eastern Housing plot saw that the building hasn't been constructed there as yet. The supervisor of the neighbouring house told this correspondent that the owner of the plot is an engineer of Eastern Housing. He has permission from RAJUK to construct a seven-storey plot here. He heard that construction will start shortly.

RAJUK sources say that a certain Fazlul Huq forged a document of a Basundhara residential area plot in an attempt to get clearance to construct an Eastern Housing building in Aftabnagar. Attempts were made to contact him over phone, but he did not respond.

Similarly, a woman by the name of Tahmina Khatun got clearance in July 2022 from RAJUK, in keeping with all rules and regulations, to construct a building in Basundhara residential area. Her plot was on M Block of Basundhara residential area. A certain Jahangir Alam used the information from that document to apply for clearance to construct a building on Black H of Basundhara residential area. After Jahangir submitted the application, RAJUK said this was forgery.

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A recent visit to the plot on Road 10, Block M, found that construction of the building hadn't commenced. But Jahangir Alam who had resorted to forgery to obtain clearance, had already completed construction using the number and details of the other plot. When attempts were made to contact him over mobile to inquire about the matter, he did not reply.

RAJUK's Deputy town planner Mustafizur Rahman told Prothom Alo that in order to get RAJUK approval to construct a building, first a clearance of land use certificate must be obtained. As the land use clearance certificates of seven persons submitted with the applications to the RAJUK development control department were suspicious, these were scrutinised and the forgery was detected.

President of the Bangladesh Institute of Urban Planners, Professor Adil Mohammed Khan, feels that a digital system should have been introduced long ago to check file numbers in order to prevent forgery. He told Prothom Alo, unless the process of approval for building construction is fixed, unplanned buildings will continue to sprout up in the capital. If this cannot be prevented, DAP will be of no use.

* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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