Feb 22
BGMEA seeks one more year to knock down office building PDF Print E-mail

The garment makers have requested the Supreme Court to postpone the demolition of the controversial BGMEA office for a year as they are not fully prepared to flatten such a big building.

On March 12, the court ordered to start the demolition of the 15-storey building within six months or by September 12.

On August 23, the garment makers' platform appealed to the court for the extension of the deadline, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

“We respect the court verdict. But we need more time to complete the construction work of the new office building in Uttara,” he said.

He said the association has already appointed consultants for the new structure on a 5.5-bigha land in Uttara Sector-17.

The demolition of such a sprawling building within six months is almost impossible as the BGMEA needs to do a lot of homework before starting the process, Rahman said.

“I am hopeful that the construction of the new office building would be completed by next one year.”

The association paid Tk 11 crore to the government yesterday as the price of the land in Uttara. The original value of the land is Tk 22 crore but the BGMEA paid half because the government has reduced the price for the association.

After the court order, most of the offices of 40 different companies housed in the building have already moved to new places.

Out of the building's 266,000 square feet area, the BGMEA owned 1.40 lakh square feet and sold, leased or rented out 125,000 square feet to different individuals and companies.

The price of the space sold stood at Tk 62.5 crore a decade ago, as the BGMEA sold per square foot at Tk 5,000 at that time, according to the buyers of the space.

The main building, constructed on two bighas of land, contains amenities such as restaurant, gymnasium, swimming pool, conference rooms and a two-storey basement car parking.

The total value of the building is more than Tk 300 crore, according to the BGMEA.

Rahman said at the moment the association is working on many other issues such as factory remediation process prescribed by the Accord and the Alliance, two foreign factory inspection agencies.

The garment makers are going through a very tough time as the sector's growth fell to 0.2 percent in the last fiscal year, he said.

“So, I hope the court will consider our plea for the time extension.”

In March this year, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking review of its judgement upholding an April 2011 High Court order to knock down the structure illegally built in the capital's Begunbari canal and Hatirjheel lake.

The building's foundation was laid in 1998 by the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and it was opened in 2006 by the then premier Khaleda Zia. The High Court verdict had ordered the government to bulldoze the building within three months, saying it was built on land acquired through forgery and filled with earth illegally.

Later, the Appellate Division stayed the HC verdict following a BGMEA petition.

A four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha passed a short verdict on June 2 last year dismissing the BGMEA appeal and upholding the HC order.

The Supreme Court released the full text of the verdict on November 8 ordering the BGMEA to immediately demolish the building at its own cost.

(Source - The Daily Star)