The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) has turned down a proposal to shift Bangladesh Secretariat from Ramna to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar as it was not accompanied by the original plan prepared by architect Louis I Kahn.The meeting on Tuesday, held at the NEC Centre, was chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told journalists, “The prime minister said at the meeting the original plan of Luis Kahn must be examined. The copy that we have has to be compared with the original to see if there is any deviation.”Hasina gave instructions to present the project plan again after getting the original drawings.“Various recommendations were made at the meeting. So it was decided to return the proposed plan along with the one prepared by Kahn,” he said.In reply to a question on the project’s fate, he said: “It remains suspended for the time being.”
On whether former president Ziaur Rahman’s grave would be retained in the fresh plan to be submitted, the minister said, “Nothing can be said without seeing the original. We will have to see if there is provision for one or more mazars in it.”The plan the Estonia-born American architect had prepared for the National Parliament Complex and its surroundings in 1962 is currently preserved at a US university, the minister said.
A controversy centred on the security installations around Parliament had prompted initiatives last year to bring the original drawings. For that, the Department of Architecture had got in touch with David Wisdom and Associates, the firm that completed Kahn’s projects after his sudden death in 1974.But the Parliament secretariat and the Department of Architecture have already spent a year in merely trying to figure out the cost of bringing the original blueprint.On Jun 6, a proposal was placed before the PEC of the Planning Commission to construct a new secretariat complex on a 32-acre land comprising the present trade fair ground and adjoining plots in the absence of space in Ramna to extend the present complex.But the Planning Commission rebuffed the plan for being prepared without any survey, a senior commission official had told greenwatchbd.com.Despite the Planning Commission’s objections, it was later decided to finalise the proposal at the prime minister’s behest.The plan provided for the construction of four blocks on the 32-acre plot. The two bigger blocks were to house 32 major ministries, and the two smaller ones were to have 16 lesser ones.The complex was to have the main secretariat and associated buildings, an auditorium and a hall, a mosque arcade and a co-operative building, entrance plaza, chiller room, roads, and a boundary wall.
The plan was to let the Public Works Department handle the Tk 20bn project, to be completed by 2018.A senior Planning Commission official had told bdnews24.com the proposal lacked prior evaluation and the detailed project plan gave no indication of the space requirement of the ministries and departments.Earlier, a similar plan had been made in 1974 envisioning 10 nine-storey blocks with supporting facilities. A contract had also been signed with David Wisdom and Associates.But the project failed to get off the ground because of a changed political scenario.When the Awami League came back to power in 1996, the then planning minister tried to revive it but there was no headway.