‘Enough is enough’ I said to myself just after the news of the FR Tower tragedy came through. I have lived in Banani for the last 21 years and, of course, I have seen many changes. The two-storey houses with tree lined gardens have gone, with high rises taking their place and whereas 30 years ago (I lived in Dhanmondi in those days) there were a handful of good restaurants, now there are hundreds. Over the last 21 years I have watched the tower blocks going up and I have read the concerned writings in the English media about the uncontrolled building, mostly upwards, and the reducing amount of open places for exercise and recreation, particularly for our children.

Some of the constructive criticism in the media has, over the years, rarely been followed up or has been silenced, but many of us are of the opinion that RAJUK, the Fire Services, the DNCC and many others have been paid off for their inaction and/or silence. There has to be an independent investigation, nothing else will be valid. Some years ago when Annisul Huq was Mayor, high rises on Kemal Attaturk Raod were identified where underground car parks were being used illegally as shops and car showrooms. Money under the table to RAJUK and others, almost definitely, made sure that nothing changed.

And don’t get angry me, I can see what is happening/has happened in the road (Road 22, Block-K, Banani) where I now live. A quiet, narrow no through road, on the Banani side of the lake has been commercializedwith a Real Estate office, a centre where workers going abroad come for medicals and two apartment buildings next to the one where I live have been joined to make, ‘York Hospital-A Multidisciplinary Boutique Hospital’. Some years ago, the Canadian CIDA supported NGO, ‘Acid Survivors Foundation’, had a small treatment and rehabilitation centre there but they were told that a medical facility was not allowed in a residential area and they moved to Mirpur. Shortly thereafter a notice went up about ‘York Hospital-Canada/Bangladesh Collaboration’. Excuse me, some of us said, a hospital in a narrow dead end road and with no parking spaces? And hospital waste going into the lake? Which authority has given permission for this hospital? Who owns the hospital? When Annisul Huq was elected Mayor, conversion work stopped but as soon as news came that he had passed away, work started again.

The Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has repeatedly said that corruption must be rooted out at all levels. Banani would be a good place to start but not only on the FR Tower road.

Julian Francishas been associated with relief and development activities of Bangladesh since the War of Liberation. In 2012, the Government of Bangladesh awarded him the ‘Friends of Liberation War Honour’ in recognition of his work among the refugees in India in 1971 and in 2018 honoured him with full Bangladesh Citizenship. In 2019, Julian has also been honoured with the award of the OBE for services to development in Bangladesh.

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