City-dwellers are being worst affected by multiplicity of mills, factories and commercial establishments in capital Dhaka and its surrounding areas.
Nearly two lakh mills, industrial units and commercial establishments are located in the overpopulated city. Around 60,000 of them have been established unlawfully in different residential areas.
Environmentalists fear that the illegally-constructed industrial buildings may collapse any time and cause human disaster.
Such mills and factories in residential areas are causing sound and other pollution, resulting in health hazards.
Sources said government authorities earlier decided to relocate mills and factories elsewhere, but the decision was shelved later.
The areas infested with factories include Old Dhaka, Mirpur, Shyamoli, Rampura, Basabo, Banani, Uttara, Tejgaon, Jatrabari, Gulshan, Badda, Eskaton, Mouchak, Malibagh, Shankar and Mohammadpur.
The unplanned establishment of garment factories in residential areas has been curse for city-dwellers.
Toxic fumes emitted from the factories coupled with sound pollution are taking a heavy toll on human life and environment in the metropolis and its surrounding areas.
Even the people of posh areas like Gulshan are not spared from the detrimental effect of mills and factories.
It is due to the mills and factories that residential areas have lost their character.
There is no yardstick between residential and commercial areas.
Banani and Uttara Model Town have also lost their residential character for having factories and other commercial establishments.This problem is prevalent in Dhanmondi and Nikunja residential areas too.
Many residential buildings are home to workshops and other factories on the ground floors. Besides, first, second and third floors of many residential buildings have turned into markets and shopping malls.
There is an absurd juxtaposition of residential flats and commercial establishments in the same buildings.
Around 20 banks, over 50 schools, colleges, one and a half dozens of private universities, around 100 diagnostic centres and clinics, and shopping malls, community centres, fast food shops, department stores, hotels and shops are buzzing in the residential areas of Gulshan.
It has been learnt that some unscrupulous people took plots from RAJUK for residential purpose, but using those for commercial purposes. Eight years ago, RAJUK had issued notices to the plot owners and leaseholders to remove commercial and illegal establishments from Gulshan and Banani.
Later, in utter surprise, RAJUK asked the plot owners and plot allottees near Shooting Club, Gulshan-2 intersection, Kamal Ataturk Avenue, and the area between Gulshan-Banani Bridge and Baridhara Bridge to pay Tk 8 lakh per Katha for using their properties for commercial purposes.
The owners of plots on both sides of the Airport road were asked to pay Tk 4 lakh per Katha for the same reason.
Those landowners who paid the fees were asked not to erect building higher than eight stores. RAJUK gave them a deadline to remove illegal structures within two months.
In its notice, RAJUK said it would demolish the illegal structures and cancel allotments of the delinquent allottees. Eight years elapsed since RAJUK issues the notice, but the owners of commercial hubs are yet to pay heed to the directive.
There is no sign of resolving the problem and the situation is getting worse gradually. Many plot owners have resorted to lawsuits and other means for delaying the execution of RAJUK’s decision.
People in Mohakhali have been exposed to the ills of risky factories, sound and air pollutions. There is a mushroom growth of educational institutions, hospitals and clinics in Old Dhaka and Dhanmondi.
According to Dhaka City Corporation and Department of Environment, at least 55,000 illegal factories are located in Old Dhaka. Chemicals and inflammable oil are being used in these factories. The inhabitants of the area are always at risk of fire incident and buildings collapse.
The parliamentary standing committee has detected 500 plots in Gulshan and Nikunja being used commercially. Mills and factories have been constructed on these plots violating rules. Of the plots, 486 plots are located in Gulshan and 14 in Nikunja.
According to experts, permissible level of sound pollution is 50-70 decibels. But the high voltage generators, hydraulic horns and brick crushing machines produce sound pollution up to 160-200 decibels in most areas of the city.
The Sound Pollution Control Act-2006, Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995, Environment Conservation Rules 1997 and DMP Act 1976 prohibit sound pollution and treated it as a punishable offence.
But a section of unscrupulous people are causing sound pollution being indifferent towards the rules and human health concerns.