Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim inaugurated the demolition at around 12:30pm on Wednesday after nine years of legal tussle
There are broken switchboards, wires, drums, containers, broken furniture and what not on the floor. There are broken bricks all over the place.
A staircase rises up from the debris. It will take you to a hall room with decaying yellow walls and shattered blue chairs covered in layers of dust. The arrangements say it had been an auditorium once.
This abandoned place is not a war zone or a cyclone affected building. This is the very BGMEA building which had once been the office for around 40 organisations. The place was sealed in April 2019.
Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim inaugurated the demolition at around 12:30pm on Wednesday after nine years of legal tussle.
There is a window with a "jheel view" on one side of that auditorium. This must have been the perfect place for people who enjoy a lake view.
However, this building had been labelled as a "cancer" in the Hatirjheel project and a "sore" by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for occupying crucial parts of the Hatirjheel and Begunbari canals.
In fact, it was built in the heart of the Hatirjheel and Begunbari canals in violation of the wetland law. Environmentalists believe that the building, to a large extent, is responsible for water logging in Dhaka city.
It all started in 1998 when the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) took on a project to build an office for their own use.
There had been a huge loophole behind the granting of lease of the land.
The Export Promotion Bureau gave the land to the BGMEA when the bureau itself did not own the land.
The construction of the building started the same year.
The then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the BGMEA building with the intention of creating a scope for our businessmen.
The building was completed in 2006.
By that time the government had changed and Khaleda Zia was in power. She inaugurated the building.
The demolition of the same building was inaugurated by another minister today who admitted that the building was illegal and a mistake.
The building epitomised corporate lifestyle. It had offices, clubs, auditoriums, seminar rooms, a hotel, a gym and almost everything needed for a luxurious life. Everything was going all right.
Until one-day trouble came. Environmentalists who had been protesting the edifice from the very beginning over environmental issues became more vocal and stronger.
The media published a numbers of reports and then investigations started.
The media became vocal and started investigating the building. Some marked the existence of the building as a total disregard of the law by people in power.
In 2010, the High Court issued a rule asking the BGMEA to explain the establishment, and then it declared the building "illegal" in 2011.
With this declaration, the chapter of procrastination was opened.
Though the High Court ordered the demolition to be completed within 90 days, the BGMEA was not cowed by the verdict.
They appealed against the verdict, and this ran for five years. Their appeal was finally dismissed in 2016. Then they asked for three years to move their offices from the building.
In response, the Appellate Division granted them 13 months in two phases.
By this time the BGMEA had already been given a new space in Uttara for a new building. It was inaugurated by the prime minister on April 15, 2019.
However, the BGMEA was still using the old illegal building.
Finally, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) stepped in and sealed the building on April 16 last year.
After months of anticipation and recurrent procrastination, the demolition finally started on January 22, 2020 in the presence of Rajuk officials, the media, and the governing body of Four Star Enterprises that will be carrying out the demolition project.
SM Rezaul Karim dismantled tiles from the ground floor. A bulldozer was brought in to demolish the walls of the mighty BGMEA building.
This is how the beginning of the fall of the BGMEA building took place.
After formalities, the minister assured the media that not only will the building be demolished, its plinth and foundation will also be removed to allow the water in the canals to flow again.
Four Star Enterprises promises to pull down the building and clear the debris within six months.
Nasrulla Khan Rashed, director of Four Star Enterprises, said, "Today we have completed formalities. From Monday, we will work in full swing to bring the edifice down."