The use of tinted glass walls or panes in high-rise buildings in the capital goes unabated, overlooking environment and other concerns.
Such use of glass, especially coloured ones, which started in Bangladesh to beautify buildings in 1985 with its fitting in Sena Kalyan Bhaban at Motijheel, has gained momentum over the years. Now glass walls in high-rises at Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Dhanmondi are aplenty. The last example is the City Centre at Motijheel where walls have been made of tinted glass.
According to environmentalists and city planners, these glass walls in high-rise buildings are heating up environment.
"Glass walls are contributing to the city's air pollution,' said Professor Shafiul Bari of Civil Engineering Department at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
Although there is no policy with regard to the use of glass for beautification of city buildings, Prof Bari said, the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakkha (RAJUK) cannot escape the responsibility of protecting city environment.
Geologists point to the fact that as Bangladesh tops the list of quake-prone countries concrete walls, open and airy windows and high ceilings are useful for buildings here. "Glass walls are very vulnerable to earthquakes," said another teacher at BUET.
The global history of glass walls dated back to 1928. People in London started using glass in beautify their households at that time. However, its use had become widespread in the post-World War-II.
According to architect Mobasser Hossain, Managing Director of Neer Limited, a private sector realtor, glass walls are much more expensive than the walls made with brick, sand and cement.
Pointing his finger at the less durability of glass walls, Mobasser also expressed his concern over the threat users of glass walls pose to the environment.
Abu Naser Khan, Chairman of Paribesh Bachaon Anolon, said, "Glass walls are in no way useful for this country because weather in this country is moderate normally. Glass walls are suitable for the weather of the western world but tantamount to greenhouse effects."
Khan suggested the government step in to discourage the use of glass walls, taking the environmental concerns into cognizance, as the ray of sun that reflects on such glass heats up the surface of the earth.
RAJUK's Building Inspector Mohammad Abul Kashem lamented the non-existence of any set rule on the use of glass walls.
He said, "As there is no rule, it is not possible to take any action against any building owners making brick or glass walls."
An owner makes a building plan where the number of stories and the amount of land are detailed and submits that to the RAJUK for approval, Kashem said, adding that RAJUK gives go-ahead to such plan if it finds the details satisfactory. He further said the city developer has nothing to do with glass walls or brick walls.
Sirajul Islam, chief city planner of Dhaka South City Corporation, also echoed Kashem's view on the helplessness of any agency to rein in usage of glass walls.
Islam said, "It is true that heat in the city is increasing because of widespread use of glass walls. But in absence of a policy, DSCC is unable to go for any action against such usage."