At least 67 officers and employees of the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) and the Ministry of Housing and Public Works were involved in irregularities for approval and construction of Banani is FR Tower.
Former RAJUK chairman Humayun Khadem, ex-RAJUK member DM Bepari, housing and public works ministry deputy secretary (estate and land) Rezaul Karim Tarafder, deputy secretary (estate and land) Shamsul Alam and senior assistant secretary Muhammad Shawkat Ali were among those involved in FR Tower construction irregularities and the design approval process.
There were two separate probe committees, one formed by the housing and public works Ministry and the other by RAJUK, to find out causes for the FR Tower fire in which 26 people lost their lives. Additional secretary of the housing and public works ministry, Yakub Ali Patwary, head of the eight-member investigation committee, submitted the report to the minister concerned.
The two committees yesterday (Wednesday) submitted their reports to the housing and public works minister, SM Rezaul Karim. Later, the minister disclosed the findings at a press conference at the Secretariat.
“RAJUK had given approval for the 15-storey building. Later, the development company applied for vertical extension of the building to the 18th floor, maintaining RAJUK’s rules and regulations properly. But the approval was given without following the proper construction law. The construction from the 18th to the 23rd floor is totally illegal,” SM Rezaul Karim said.
The minister also said the illegal portion of the Banani FR Tower will be demolished soon. Five of FR Tower’s top floors were illegally built with the direct or indirect involvement of some RAJUK officials and employees, the probe reports stated.
Some RAJUK officers and employees were also involved in irregularities in granting the Rupayan Housing Estate permission to take a loan against three of those floors,
Rezaul Karim Tarafder, member (estate and land), Shamsul Alam, director (estate and land), Muhammad Shawkat Ali, deputy director (estate and land), Shah Md Badrul Alam, assistant director, Jahanara Begum, assistant director, and Mujibur Rahman Molla, office assistant-cum-computer operator, were involved in helping the Rupayan Group to get loan, the reports said.
The plan regarding extension to the 23rd floor from the 18th shown to the probe committees by the Rupayan group was totally fake, the reports stated.
RAJUK’s ex-authorised officer, Syed Nazmul Huda, assistant authorised officer, Bashir Uddin Khan, and other officers and employees of that period were involved in signing the illegal and fake plan, the probe reports said.
According to the probe reports, between July 2005 and July 2008, at least 18 officers and employees, including chief building inspector Mahabub Hossain Sarker, and building inspectors Abdul Ghoni and Awarangazeb Siddiquee, were involved in constructing the illegal portion of the FR Tower.
Former RAJUK chairman Humayun Khadem cannot avoid his responsibility as the authorised officer.
Syed Moqbul Ahmed approved the FR Tower plan and design, violating a circular issued in 1984 (old) and 1996, in which the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) had fixed the height of a building at 155 feet. But FR Tower’s height is 193 feet, the probe reports said.
“We are yet to take action against the officials and employees involved. The process of legal action against the RAJUK and ministry staff will begin from today (Thursday),” SM Rezaul Karim said in reply to a query.
He further said many have already gone into retirement and they too will be brought under trial.
“Heads of departments will be asked to take action against those who are serving in several ministries as per the probe reports. The ministry or department concerned will file departmental cases against the persons involved in the FR Tower construction irregularities,” the minister added.
The minister said cases have already been filed against Rupayan chairman Liaquat Ali Khan Mukul and the land owners. At least 26 people were killed and around 100 others injured on March 29 when a massive fire tore through the FR Tower in the capital’s Banani area.