Principal Architect Shafique Rahman’s write up published in the national newspaper “The Independent”
National newspaper “The Independent” published an article written by Architect Shafique Rahman. “The Independent” is a recognized national newspaper in Bangladesh published “Building Regulations in Bangladesh must be maintained” written by Architect Shafique Rahman on 29th April, 2019.
While the recent fire hazards continue to strike one after another, maintaining the building regulations in Dhaka has become a primary concern for all stakeholders. Suddenly, the entire nation started to focus on the alarming rate at which poorly-designed megastructures are being erected in Dhaka, and the city of 20 million dwellers has become the centre of attention for all authorities including the common public. Despite the violation of building regulations in Dhaka that we are taking into consideration now, what is the scenario in other cities where the pace of development has also enormously increased, along with the rapidly growing economy of Bangladesh?
Building developments are ruled by the governmentally-set National Regulations in order to ensure the safest and healthiest possible living environment for all habitants. 37 years after the independence, in 2008, we had first published a modified version of the Building Construction Act, which was originally created in 1952. The upgraded version of the building regulatory gazette, which came into effect only for the Capital City, is known as “Dhaka Imarat Nirman Bidhimala, 2008.” However, the situation in all the other cities is even more critical. Other cities are yet to implement the implausibly outdated rules outlined by the “Building Construction Act of 1996”, and the only rule that was outlined in that Act was to leave a ‘Setback’, which is a fixed length of space between the boundary line and the edge of the building. The major difference between the “Dhaka Imarat Nirman Bidhimala, 2008” and the one applied for the rest of the urban areas of Bangladesh, is a factor known as the ‘FAR’. Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is a clause which limits the volume of the building depending on the area of the site and the adjacent road wide. Along with the FAR, MGC (Maximum Ground Coverage) is another aspect introduced in the ACT 2008, which confines the building footprint towards more open space in a site.
Whereas, without even considering the massive rate at which urbanization is happening today, the inefficient “Building Construction Act of 1996” is still in action throughout the country, except in Dhaka and Chittagong. Meanwhile, as the other cities are also urbanizing rapidly, they are shaping up in a haphazard manner, as building projects only follow the outdated and improper building designs and construction acts which were provided to them far too long ago.
As a result, we are conclusively responsible for creating urban discord across the country.
Despite the irrational Building Regulations being applied in the other divisions in Bangladesh, there is a strangely popular and audacious trend growing amongst the people who are involved in the field of building construction – to violate the regulation laws for personal financial benefit. The rate of construction of high-rise mega projects in small cities like Rajshahi, Khulna, Barishal, and Sylhet have been escalated by an enormous percentage with the increasing rate of urbanization everywhere. Consequently, we have started to destroy the urban environment in all city centers throughout the country, while only focusing on ensuring the implementations of the Building Regulations in the capital city, Dhaka. Still, we are lagging behind in our duties to implement the existing regulations correctly.
It is evident that Bangladesh has shown a drastic economic revolution in a very short time ,despite being one of the smallest countries existing today, and having to give dwelling space to the 8th largest population in the world. It is now impossible to even imagine this country continually remaining capital-centered, with Dhaka remaining as the only center of urban and environmental development. With the completion of the Padma Bridge, regions throughout the country are going to be connected with the capital. The introduction of the new high-speed transportation network is going to further escalate the rapid development of emerging economic hubs scattered throughout various regions in the country, and those hubs will further develop into populous city centers. The waves of development are already reverberating through the other divisions of Bangladesh, with the number of colossal building structures per area growing at a tremendous rate of construction, countrywide.
Admittedly, Dhaka contains the largest concentration of the population, and ensuring that proper building design guidelines were being followed was essential since the very inception of the national policies that were implemented several decades ago.
After encountering uncountable disasters chronologically within the last few years, the development and implementation of Construction Guidelines to strengthen the Building Laws has now become the primary concern for the news and media, think tanks, central authorities, and specially the monitoring cell of the government. All future calamities must be avoided, at any cost.
However, the major areas of the capital have already been dilapidated as the buildings are mostly constructed and occupied without even maintaining minimal bylaws. Much like Dhaka, other metropolises are now, evidently, building up faster and faster without complying with the present Building Regulations implementable to these regions. Simply put, we are continuing to proceed in the direction that will lead our country to end up speckled with an array of “other Dhakas” in various major hubs of the country, which will be exposed to innumerous upcoming safety risks, especially fire hazards.
It is time to decentralise the ideas of development in Bangladesh. The rate at which buildings are constructed, how they are built, and the locations of their construction, are all factors which influence the livability, quality and environment of urban areas.
Buildings are an unchangeable feature of a city which must be designed responsibly, and constructed and maintained in a manner which will not only help to avoid hazards, but will also assist in generating a beautiful city environment. It is high time to upgrade the Building Regulations, considering the increasing population in all other urban areas in addition to Dhaka.
It is now crucial to ensure the implementation of proper building regulations in all divisions, to effectively develop the entire country collectively.
The writer is an architect and Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture of Ahsanullah Universty of Science and Technology (AUST).