After nearly a year-long delay, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), the capital development authority, is set to begin demolition of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building today.
“It may take six months to complete the demolition of the building in Hatirjheel of Dhaka,” said Md Sayeed Noor Alam, chairman of Rajuk.
Four Star, a local company, has been awarded the rights to complete the work, Alam told The Daily Star by phone.
Ahmed also said that modern equipment would be used rather than any explosive as predicted.
However, Alam could not immediately comment on how much the demolition will cost.
Last year in April, Rajuk took the responsibility to demolish the building, which used to be the BGMEA headquarters, following a court order.
However, Rajuk was forced to delay the project as the bidding process for the rights to demolish the building was lengthy.
On April 16 last year, Rajuk arrived with the police and bulldozers in what seemed to be an attempt to bring down the BGMEA complex, which is built on a canal.
Eventually though, demolition was called off as authorities found that office bearers were still residing in the building. The office bearers were given a day to vacate and the building was sealed off.
The then prime minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the building on November 28, 1998.
On October 8, 2006, the then prime minister Khaleda Zia inaugurated the 15-storey BGMEA premises but only afterwards was it found that it was constructed illegally.
Following a report on October 3, 2010, a High Court (HC) bench issued a suo moto rule to the authorities, asking why the structure should not be torn down.
On April 3, 2011, an HC bench ordered the demolition of the illegal building, however, two days later the Appellate Division stayed the order for six weeks and asked the BGMEA to file a leave to appeal petition against the verdict.
On March 19, 2013, the HC in its verdict ordered the relevant authorities to demolish the building within three months.
The court, in the verdict, directed the BGMEA to provide refunds for the buyers of floor space in the building within a year.
In April last year, the appellate bench of the Supreme Court ordered the BGMEA building be demolished after April 12 this year.
The court termed the erection as ‘a cancer on the Hatirjheel project’ as it blocked water flow between Hatirjheel lake and the Begunbari canal.
The BGMEA building, constructed on two bighas of land, has a total space of 2.66 lakh square feet; the association owned 1.40 lakh square feet of this space. The rest was sold, leased or rented out to different individuals or companies.
The main building had several conveniences such as restaurants, a gymnasium, swimming pool, conference rooms and two-storey basement car parking. The total value of the building is estimated at more than Tk 300 crore, according to BGMEA.
Of the building’s 266,000 square foot area, BGMEA sold 125,000 square feet to different companies, including apparel manufacturers and exporters and two commercial banks.
According to buyers, the BGMEA sold each square foot at Tk 5,000 a decade ago. So the price of the sold space (125,000 square feet) stood at Tk 62.5 crore at the time. Currently, the BGMEA has shifted their operations to the Uttara and Gulshan areas.