Commercial use of residential bldgs rampant in city

Rashidul Hasan

7 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Buildings in residential areas like Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Banani and Uttara in the capital are being used for commercial purposes in blatant violation of rules and a High Court order.

Banks, hospitals, shops and other establishments are running their activities in those areas defying the Bangladesh National Building Code and land use plan of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) and other laws.

Against the backdrop, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has decided to issue trade licences, which remained suspended since 2016, to those commercial establishments instead of evicting those from the residential buildings.

However, RAJUK and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) officials said they will start drives against those who are using residential buildings for commercial entities like restaurants, tea stalls, banks and other services.

“We’ve sought LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry’s permission to restart issuing trade licences to commercial setups in residential areas,” DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said while talking to the Daily Sun.

He also said they were served a notice to stop issuing trade licences. “But businesses like hotels, private hospitals and banks are mushrooming in the residential areas and we’re depriving of revenue.”

The DNCC mayor added that this sort of commercial setups is allowed in the developed countries and they are unable to check the activities. Asked about the laws, he said Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority provided services to those establishments as commercial lines.

Meanwhile, urban planners said the decision to issue trade licences to the commercial establishments in residential areas will damage their residential character and environment, and put pressure on traffic and the parking system.

General Secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Department at Jahangirnagar University Adil Mohammed Khan said, “City corporations can’t issue trade licences to commercial setups in residential areas. It’s illegal and violation of the building code.”

“The example of developed countries is not right because it’s not allowed in purely residential areas. It may be commercial cum residential building,” he also said. 

Talking to the Daily Sun, Town Planner of RAJUK Md Ashraful Islam said RAJUK declared some areas as purely residential and for ensuring daily necessities of residents of those areas, some areas are authorised for running commercial setups. “For ensuring basic necessities of the residents of Dhandmondi area, commercial setups are authorised on Mirpur Road, Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi Road-2 and Dhanmondi Road-27,” he said.

He also said developed countries allowed commercial setups like a coffee shop in a multistoried building in a corner, not in wholesale like Bangladesh.

Sources said the High Court in June 2012 declared all commercial operations in Dhanmondi Residential Area illegal with the exception of authorised commercial establishments on Mirpur Road, Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi Road-2 and Dhanmondi Road-27. It directed the authorities to remove those establishments. The Appellate Division on August 1 of that year upheld the HC verdict.

Officials of the both the city corporations of Dhaka said they issued warnings to 18,000 establishments under DSCC and DNCC in 2016 to phase out their businesses within seven days. Of the businesses, more than 80 per cent were under the DNCC. Besides, LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry issued a notice on DSCC and DNCC not to issue trade licences to them as per the decision of the Cabinet, they said.

DSCC Chief Executive Officer ABM Amin Ulllah Nuri said, “We’ll take legal action against those violate the laws. RAJUK will help enlist the commercial establishments. Gradually, we’ll force them out of residential areas.”

RAJUK Director (Development Control-1) Md Mobarak Hossain said they are conducting regular drives against those commercial setups. “We conduct mobile court drives in different areas of the capital and demolish those structures and fine them for running violating laws,” he said.

They have no plan to carry out a large-scale drive, he said, adding that they have limitations to do so.