We welcome the government’s move to relocate illegal chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka to Shyampur. Reportedly, fifty-four temporary chemical warehouses built under the Prime Minister's priority-based "Warehouse construction for the storage of chemicals on a temporary basis" project have been inaugurated in Shyampur to relocate chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka.
It is disconcerting to know that despite having a government ban on storing inflammable materials in residential houses, the malpractice of storing of highly inflammable chemicals in old Dhaka is still going on in full swing. Ignoring the government ban, various unscrupulous traders store inflammable chemicals there putting the lives of hundreds of people at severe risk.
Earlier, a taskforce comprising representatives from Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD), RAB, police and the district administration operated drives through 86 mobile courts at different parts of Dhaka from February 28, 2019.
We must take necessary initiatives to
hold those responsible persons to
account who didn’t take any step to
relocate the chemical warehouses
despite specific directives from the government
During the drives, utility services of at least 76 warehouses and factories were severed. Some of those warehouses and factories were also given ultimatum for relocation. But their efforts did not teach the unscrupulous businessmen a lesson on account of neglecting people’s life for the sake of doing business. It is inconceivable as to how chemical storing and business is still going on there.
In a developed country, allowing chemical factories in a densely urban space would have been regarded as a criminal offence. Chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka should be relocated in no time to ensure that no tragedies like Chawkbazar and Nimtali take place in future.
Relocation of the chemical warehouses has to be made in an organized way. Given that there are many departments involved in the import of chemicals, forming a national taskforce on fire safety is the need of the hour. Earlier, the Nimtoli fire incident too had sparked huge public outcry, demanding the shifting of chemical warehouses and stores from the Old Dhaka, but little has been done in the last twelve years. Hence, we must take necessary initiatives to hold those responsible persons to account who didn’t take any step to relocate the chemical warehouses despite specific directives from the government.