Saturday, April 20, 2024

Living in rickety buildings under looming threat of earthquake

Thousands of inhabitants in Old Dhaka’s Shankhari Bazar area and surrounding neighbourhoods are living in old and rundown buildings – some of them built over 100 years ago – putting their lives at great risks as an earthquake with even a moderate intensity can level hundreds of such structures to ground.
Collapse of dilapidated structures, without any quake, is often reported from the Old Town of Dhaka.
On June 9, 2004, a six-storey building in Shankhari Bazar had subsided, claiming as many as 19 lives. The top three floors of the century-old structure were built without government permission.
After the disaster, the Dhaka City Corporation in November 2004 had identified 672 buildings in different areas of the city as ‘vulnerable’. Some 92 of them are at Shankhari Bazar, considered to be a 300-year old urban settlement. But people of the neighbourhood are yet to shift from the risky buildings.
The people living there for generations, mostly belonging to Hindu community, appeared to be unwilling to leave their homes due to different social, religious and economic reasons, according to the residents of the houses and locals.
Disputes among inheritors of a single structure, economic inability to rent a house elsewhere, fear of losing ownership, lack of coordination among government agencies, problems relating to shifting of temples and simple unwillingness were the main explanations, they said.
Some old buildings, including that of 14 Shankhari Bazar, were damaged in the quake that shook the country on September 10.
‘The quake caused collapse of a chunk of the ceiling and cracks in the walls,’ said a resident of the house.
The columns of the building, slightly tilted a few years earlier, have become too weak to hold a three-storey structure. Portion of the ceiling of the ground floor has been supported by bamboo.
A ten-member family is still living in the veritable death trap, which houses a family temple on the second floor, amid fears the structure could collapse anytime.
‘We cannot move from the house as leaving the ‘household deity’ is not permissible,’ said a female member of the family. She also said that shifting it to another place was also not permitted.
The food and disaster management ministry identified the building as ‘very risky’ and ordered its demolition. But the owner could not proceed after demolishing a portion as the housing and public works ministry was not giving permission, said the manager of the house Sukumar Chandra Dey.
‘Though the building is not a declared “heritage”, the public works ministry is not giving permission to demolish it as it is located in the heritage zone,’ he said.
‘We have heard of so many meetings in the ministry, but no decision in a year,’ he added.
A total of 17 such applications have been pending with the ministry, some of them for more than a year, admitted a high official at the public works ministry.
‘The applications would soon be forwarded to the subcommittee dealing with the issue. The committee will then visit the buildings and give permission to demolish the non-heritage structures,’ he added.
Another risky building at Shankhari Bazar (holding number 27) was also partially demolished a few years ago. ‘The rest of the building could not be pulled down because of disputes among the inheritors of the property,’ said a family member.
Arati Pal of Naba Roy Lane, who lives in a government-leased house, said, ‘The family is run by the earnings of my 11-year-old child. We cannot afford to rent a better house elsewhere.’
‘We are well aware of the risks but have no option,’ she said adding that the people who could afford to shift to a better place had already left the rundown houses.
‘The government will soon cancel the lease of the risky and uninhabitable buildings,’ said the deputy commissioner of Dhaka, Md Mohibul Haque.
About rehabilitation of the residents like Arati Pal, the DC said, ‘It is a part of the overall government policy. I have no say on it.’
The DC, however, said a law and policy should be formulated for evacuation and demolition of the unusable buildings as they poses threat to people’s lives.
Earlier in mid-2009, the Dhaka City Corporation identified 93 buildings and sites, mostly in four heritage zones – Shankhari Bazar, Sutrapur, Farashganj and Ramna – as heritage. Most of them are located in the Old Town, said DCC’s chief town planner Mohammad Sirajul Islam.
The city corporation ordered retrofit of the heritage buildings and demolition of the risky non-heritage structures if retrofitting is not possible. The owners have also been asked to knock down the unauthorised floors of the buildings, according to the chief town planner.
No significant move to reconstruct the risky buildings or demolish them has been taken so far by the authorities concerned.

 

Courtesy of NewAge

Related News

bKash communications chief Mahfuz Sadique dies at 40

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Mahfuz Sadique, chief communications officer of mobile financial services firm bKash, passed away in Bangladesh capital Dhaka Friday morning. He was 40. Mahfuz died around 9:00am while undergoing treatment at a hospital in the capital, bKash said in a statement. Mahfuz, who began his career as a journalist at New Age, ... Read more

Prices for potatoes increase by 229% from the previous year

Prices for potatoes varied from Tk16 to Tk22 per kg at this time last year. News Desk : dhakamirror.com Despite the presence of both new and old potatoes in the market, potato prices have soared by 229% compared to late December last year. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the selling price for ... Read more

LGED engineer dead, UNO among 3 injured in Panchagarh car crash

News Desk : dhakamirror.com An engineer of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) was killed and three other government officials were injured when the vehicle of a UNO hit a roadside tree in Panchagarh Sadar upazila early today. The deceased was identified as Abu Sayed, 33, upazila engineer of LGED from Pirganj upazila of Thakurgaon. ... Read more

UNHCR calls for rescue of Rohingyas stranded in Andaman Sea

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has made an urgent appeal to all countries in the region, particularly those in the area surrounding the Andaman Sea, to swiftly deploy their full search and rescue capacities in response to reported vessels in distress with hundreds of Rohingya at risk of perishing. ... Read more

Over 200 RMG workers injured in Comilla while evacuating factory during earthquake

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Over two hundred garment workers in Cumilla’s Chauddagram have been injured while trying to evacuate the factory building of Amir Shirt Garment Limited during today’s earthquake. A 5.5 magnitude earthquake at a depth of 10km jolted Dhaka, and parts of the country at 9:35am today (2 December). The epicentre of the ... Read more

Daughter hacked father to death in Chattogram

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A father was hacked to death by his own daughter during an altercation over a trivial matter at Lohagara upazila in Chattogram on Friday (1 December). The deceased was identified as Abdur Rahman, 50, of Putibila Sarai village under the upazila. Police have detained the daughter, Humaira Begum, 23, soon after ... Read more

HSC results: Dhaka has most GPA-5 achievers, while Barishal has highest pass rate

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Dhaka had the highest number of GPA-5 recipients in the HSC exams, while Barishal Education Board had the highest pass rate among nine educational boards. Education Minister Dipu Moni announced today that the overall pass rate in the nine general boards is 75.90 percent. In terms of pass rates, Barishal ranked ... Read more

PSC postpones 45th BCS written tests

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided to postpone the written tests for the 45th Bangladesh Civil Service examination, which was scheduled to be held on 27 November. The announcement came through a notification signed by Ananda Kumar Biswas, the exam controller of PSC, issued on Friday. PSC held a ... Read more

After stabbing younger sister to death woman ‘kills herself’ in Hazaribagh

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A woman reportedly killed herself after stabbing her younger sister to death in the capital’s Hazaribagh area today. Police said the incident took place in the Kalunagar area at around 12am on Monday (13 November). The deceased have been identified as Jasmine Akhtar, 44, and her younger sister Nasreen Akhtar, 30. ... Read more

Oman stops issuing new visas to citizens of Bangladesh

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Sultanate of Oman has suspended the issuance of visas across all categories for Bangladeshi nationals, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said on Tuesday. The decision was effective from Tuesday, reported Oman-based English newspaper the Times of Oman referring to the Royal Oman Police. The report said that the ROP confirmed ... Read more

Dhaka girl Nupur takes over as chairman of Unilever for a day

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Seventeen-year-old Nupur from Dhaka, had the opportunity to take over Unilever’s chairman position for one day on Thursday. There, she symbolically carried out the roles and responsibilities of Zaved Akhtar, the chairman and managing director of Unilever Bangladesh, said a press release. Nupur being an active youth club member, works for ... Read more

Hospitals must follow guidelines, orders HC

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The High Court on Thursday asked the government to take steps to make it compulsory to follow the relevant guidelines for the prevention of performing unnecessary caesarean section surgery at government and private hospitals and clinics. The court has also directed the government to widely circulate the guidelines within six months. ... Read more

Woman delivers birth to five babies at DMCH

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A woman has given birth to five premature babies. The quintuplets were born at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) at 10am on Thursday to Mansura Begum, 22, the wife of CNG driver Md Mamun from Bandardia village in Shibpur upazila of Narsingdi district. One of the newborns, however, died shortly ... Read more

Tk8.44 cr fine imposed to Kazi Farms, 3.44 crore to Suguna Food

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Bangladesh Competition Commission has fined Kazi Farms Group and Saguna Food and Feeds on charges of market manipulation causing abnormal rise in broiler chicken prices. BCC officials said that the companies must deposit the fine amount to the BCC within 10 working days. If they fail to deposit the fine ... Read more

Heritage volunteers visit national museum

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The heritage volunteers participating in UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers Programme 2023 visited national museum in Dhaka on Sunday. The ten-day workshop programme organised by Nagar Upakhyan-Perceive started on October 1, said a press release. The Heritage volunteers’ team visited national museum which is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list on ... Read more

Fare for Bangladesh-India trains to increase from November 10

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Ticket prices of three inter-country trains on Bangladesh-India routes are going to be hiked from November 10. The fares are going to increase due to high exchange rate of US dollar and rising travel tax, according to the Bangladesh Railway officials. The trains are – Maitree Express on Dhaka-Kolkata, Bandhan Express ... Read more

Man, nephew killed by lightning

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A man and his nephew were struck by lightning in Satarbari village of Longair union under Gafargaon upazila of Mymensingh yesterday. The deceased were identified as Sohel Mondol, 40, a trader of pharmaceutical drugs, and his nephew Razib Mondol, 35 a rice trader in the village. Quoting locals, Raju Ahmed, officer-in-charge ... Read more

TV sales decline despite World Cup: Is streaming to blame?

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 captures the attention of sports enthusiasts across the world and an intriguing trend is emerging in Bangladesh’s television market. While events of this magnitude have traditionally led to an increase in TV sales, recent figures from September show a 30% decline compared to the same ... Read more

Heritage volunteers visit Paharpur archaeological museum

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The heritage volunteers participating in UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers Programme 2023 visited Paharpur archaeological museum in Naogaon on Friday. The ten-day workshop programme organised by Nagar Upakhyan-Perceive started on October 1, said a press release. The Heritage volunteers’ team visited Paharpur archaeological museum which is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative ... Read more

Child among three dead as mud walls collapsed in rain in Gazipur

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Three people including an eight-year-old child died in separate incidents of mud walls collapsing during heavy rain in Sadar and Kaliakoir upazilas of Gazipur. The deceased are Faridul Islam, 8, son of Matiur Rahmon of Konabari Baimile under Sadar upazila, and Imarat Hossain, 65, and his wife Achia Begum, 56, of ... Read more