Savar mayor suspended, UNO withdrawn

Eight days after the Rana Plaza building collapse, at least eight people, including Savar municipality mayor, its councillors and engineers of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakhya (RAJUK), have been suspended. The decision was taken following a report filed by the probe committee formed by the LGRD ministry. The suspended people are: Savar municipality mayor Md Refayetullah, its councillor of word No-7 Mohammad Ali Khan, former chief executive officer of Savar municipality Uttam Kumar Roy (now working in Munshiganj municipality), former executive engineer of the municipality Md Rafiqul Islam (now working in Comilla municipality), former sub-assistant engineer of the municipality Md Rafiqul Hassan (Russel) (now working in Gazipur municipality), its urban planner Farzana Islam, RAJUK architect ATM Masud Reza and its structural engineer Sazzad Hossain.
Headed by a joint secretary of the LGRD ministry, Md Akhtar Hossain, the probe committee submitted its report with six-point recommendations before the secretary of the ministry on Thursday.
The committee noted that the eight persons had approved the building’s design, bypassing the original plan, and added additional seven to tenth floors to the ill-fated building by creating a new file, which was a gross negligence on their part. The probe panel also charged them with abuse of power.
After receiving the inquiry report, LGRD secretary Abu Alam Shaheed Khan told The Independent that they have suspended the Savar municipal mayor, Md Refayetullah.
“At the same time, the ministry issued a show-cause notice to mayor Md Refayetullah asking him to inform the ministry within seven working days why
he should not be dismissed from the mayoral post,” he said.
“We also asked the authorities concerned like Rajuk to take necessary action against the officials for alleged negligence of their duties in this regard,” he added.
The secretary also said that they have already asked all the municipalities to follow the Bangladesh national Building Code before approving any building.
According to the probe report, Md Refayetullah has failed to submit the file of the plan and design of the Rana Plaza (semi basement to fifh floor) because the file had been lost. The building’s layout plan was twice approved by the mayor, though he had never inspected the site. Md Refayetullah, however, told committee members that he had approved the plan and design of the building as per the building code.
An LGRD ministry senior official said that all the eight people responsible for the tragedy are likely to be arrested if the authorities concerned seek action against them.
Meanwhile, the government has withdrawn Kabir Hossain Sarder, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Savar upazila under Dhaka district, on Thursday on charges of gross negligence of his duties as he failed to prevent the collapse of Rana Plaza, which
claimed the lives of over 432 workers and injured at least 2,500 others on
April 24.
Kabir Hossain Sarder was made OSD (officer on special duty) of the Public Administration Ministry, issued by a circular by the ministry. The UNO was withdrawn after publishing a news story on The Independent on Thursday.
The UNO had provided a ‘risk-free certificate’ to the owner of the building, Sohel Rana, even after cracks were spotted on Rana Plaza.
Kabir Hossain Sarder, a BCS administration cadre officer, joined as UNO here 18 months ago.
The chief of another inquiry committee and additional secretary of the home ministry, Mainuddin Khandokar, said they have launched an inquiry into the matter and will soon submit its report.
The owner of Rana Plaza, Sohel Rana, his father Abdul Khaleque, and high-ranking officials of three garment factories housed in the collapsed building have already been arrested on charges of violation of the building code and willful negligence.

-with The Independent input

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