It was supposed to be the top priority for a city development organisation to protect the heritage sites. That's what we see in other cities around the world. But what happened over Ruplal House made us skeptical about the protection of Dhaka's antiquities. The condition of our heritage buildings is fragile and unprotected.
It is appalling when the authorities assigned to protect those carry out an such illegal act. What is more worrying is that this incident has taken place through extreme irregularities and although it is an 'open secret', no action has been taken against this. It seems Rajuk does not consider this as a big issue.
It needs clearance from various departments of Rajuk to use land for construction of buildings in protected land. Following that first the Rajuk surveyor Ashutosh Chakma and later building inspector, Saddam Hussein visited Ruplal House in Farashganj. They visited three times and did not find any 'existence' of Ruplal House there.
However, Ashutosh told Prothom Alo that he had mentioned the actual information, but later the higher authorities made the error. On the other hand, Saddam claimed that he did not know that Ruplal House was a historic building. He was also under ‘pressure’ to approve the construction of a new building there. Only a show cause notice was issued to the surveyor and inspector after the matter came to light.
Initially, an eight-storey building was approved in the Ruplal House area in 2018. The organisation kept the matter of Ruplal House a secret. This means that a corrupt clique of Rajuk officials is directly involved. Rajuk must take responsibility for this and be held accountable.
Taken aback over the issue many city planners also say that this occurred due to corruption of some officials and employees of Rajuk. The information has been deliberately hidden. Those involved in this incident must be identified and brought to justice. This must be done to avoid such incidents in the future.
We hope that the two-storey building in front of Ruplal House will be demolished soon. The Deputy Commissioner, City Corporation and the Department of Archeology are responsible for the maintenance and preservation of antiquities and heritage structures in Dhaka.
There are allegations that due to the careless attitude of Rajuk, other authorities also turn a blind eye to these matters. As a result, the buildings are steadily decaying Rajuk should take concerted initiatives with other authorities to protect these heritage sites.