Law & Order
11 days ago

Overlooking citizens' safety: Identify, hold accountable state officials

Urban experts urge govt

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Urban experts urged the government to identify and hold accountable the officials concerned of different state agencies, who overlook citizens' safety and property in urban areas across the country.

They also identified some loopholes and hurdles, like lax enforcement, lack of proper monitoring of the state agencies and development authorities, including city corporations, in overseeing and protecting the citizens' life and property in different cities, and absence of good governance for repeated fire incidents and explosions.

Regarding negligence in taking proper measures related to fire and residential safety, they also blamed lack of required role and initiative of building owners, businessmen and entrepreneurs in non-residential and commercial use of city buildings, which is also risking such untoward incidents.

They made their call and observations at a webinar - 'Protection of Urban Citizens: Current Perspectives and Way Forward for Urban Development' - organised by the Institute for Planning and Development (IPD) on Friday.

IPD Executive Director Professor Adil Mohammed Khan presented the keynote paper at the event.

IPD Adviser Dr Md Akter Mahmud, Urban Planner at Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (RAJUK) Ashraful Islam, IPD Director Mohammad Ariful Islam, environmental expert Dr Farhadur Reza, and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Dr. Md. Easir Arafat Khan, among others, also spoke on the occasion.

Bangladesh is recently experiencing massive fire incidents and explosions in urban areas, including Dhaka city. It has a history of large-scale industrial disasters also.

Speaking at the function, Professor Adil Khan said although the urban areas have seen a number of major fire incidents, building explosions and other disasters, the country has not been able to take lessons in a real sense.

The overall readiness to build safe cities is still very weak, he added.

Dr Akter Mahmud said, "Our professionals must also take responsibility for the fact that the buildings in the urban areas as a whole have become hazardous for living."

It is very unfortunate that some of the professionals take positions in favour of vested interest groups and upset safe city life and its citizens.

He called upon those professionals to show their wisdom to ensure free use of natural light and air by reducing the dependency on air conditioner (AC) in the building design along with removing ambiguity in the definition of multi-storied building.

Ashraful Islam said to make the buildings of Dhaka city risk-free, architectural design as well as structural design must be submitted from now on.

At the same time, RAJUK is making regulations to take 'planning approval' or 'planning permit' in applicable cases to monitor land use and miscellaneous use of buildings and their surroundings.

Besides, it is going to introduce 'third-party monitoring' to supervise construction process of buildings, through which it will be possible to end irregularities in building construction process, he added.

Ariful Islam said builders or building owners are increasing risk of living by reducing construction cost.

Dr. Easir Arafat opined that public interest is being ignored mostly while enacting laws and regulations in the country.

Regarding the negligence of building owners or builders, he noted that they are showing indifference, in terms of ensuring public safety - including that of workers, day after day due to inadequate punishment.

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