Chemical godowns in Old Dhaka

Relocation still a far cry

It is a matter of deep concern that chemical godowns from residential buildings of old Dhaka are not taken away. Experts opined that, for the safety of citizens chemical godowns must be shifted from residential areas. After the devastating fire incident at Churihatta in Chawkbazar of the capital last year, the administration ordered the chemical godowns to be shifted and the traders sought 10 days for it.
Nearly a year has passed, but the businessmen have not kept their promise, and the administration has failed to implement their decision.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has strictly given certain guidances after losing more than 120 men and women in a fire in Nimtali, Old Dhaka on June 3, 2010. One of them was to create a safe environment by systematically setting up a chemical industry zones, shifting all the chemical godowns and explosives of old Dhaka in a safer location. As a result of the Prime Minister's directives that none of these directives were implemented in eight years, the fierce fire broke out at Churihatta in Chawkbazar, about one kilometer from Nimtali that resulted in the death of at least 81 people.

A senior official of Fire Service and Civil Defense Ali Ahmmed said, “After the tragedy of Nimtali and Churihatta, we expected that chemical godowns would be removed from residential areas across the country as promised by the administration.” But sorry to say, the situation has not changed. The major evidence of this is the persistence of chemical godowns in residential buildings in Tanbazar area of Narayanganj city, he added.

Chemical factories remain in residential areas in Keraniganj, Dhaka, and there have been several fire accidents recently, according to the official. Department of Chemistry Professor Narayan Ghosh at the University of Dhaka emphasized that there is no alternative to relocating a chemical factory and godown from a residential area to avoid accidents.

It is often seen that the people involved in the chemical business are members of some political party. In addition, law enforcement personnel are also involved in this business . Public interest will never prevail in this country if this continues, he added. Professor Ghosh further said, “Nimtali and Churihatta tragedy are enough to learn a lesson of fire accident consequence. Accidents can happen any time. Therefore, in every building there should be adequate fire preventive equipment.”