First-time minister hits the ground to tackle housing issues
The Housing and Public Works Ministry is working on a master plan containing a policy framework for running commercial establishments in otherwise residential areas such as Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara.
Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim disclosed this in an interview with UNB at his office, the UNB reported.
Acknowledging that random establishments in Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara are being used for commercial purposes, he said it is unfortunate that there are no specific rules and regulations for commercial establishments in the areas. ‘We’ll mention clearly which establishment could be used for commercial purpose once the plan is formulated,’ he said.
The first-time minister said his ministry will ‘wage a war’ against those who are using establishments for commercial purposes without converting the houses from residential designs to commercial ones following proper procedures. ‘No one, regardless of political identity or social status, will be spared,’ he warned.
Noting the limitations of law enforcement, the minister relayed that the wait-time was about 20 days to get one platoon of police for conducting a mobile court drive against illegal establishments. ‘That’s too long, or the resources too limited, when you want to conduct drives across entire Dhaka,’ he mentioned.
About the wrongdoers, Rezaul remains optimistic about launching the drives against them soon.
Asked about recent fires in Old Dhaka, he reiterated that most buildings in the old part of the city either do not have any authorised plan, or were built violating the code.
The government is devising a plan to buy out owners of small plots in Old Dhaka, demolish the age-old buildings that currently stand there, and consolidate several plots at a time to build commercial high-rises on them. The former land-owners will get flats in the new structures based on the amount they sold.
The plan will introduce the concept of ‘redevelopment’, that has been part of urban planning in a number of cities across Japan, Malaysia and Singapore for some time now, into the discourse here, Rezaul said, adding, ‘We’re interested to follow them by erecting high-rises in Old Dhaka based on the re-development system.’
Asked where the residents whose homes will be destroyed to be accommodated during the redevelopment, the minister said the government has no plan to provide them with accommodation during the period in question, but did not foresee any crisis stemming from a housing shortage.
‘We won’t destroy all the buildings at the same time. We’ve discussed the issue with the Prime Minister at an Ecnec meeting. We also discussed with DSCC mayor Sayed Khokon following the PM’s direction. We’ll reshape the area,’ said Rezaul Karim.