Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (Feb 23) said the Chawkbazar tragedy appeared as a lesson for chemical warehouse owners in Old Dhaka, expressing her belief this time they would not decline to relocate their godowns elsewhere as insisted earlier.
“I hope that those who earlier opposed to relocate their chemical warehouses from (crammed) old Dhaka will not hesitate after the tragedy,” she told newsmen after visiting the wounded fire patients at National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka, local media reports said.
A state-of art facility under Dhaka Medical College Hospital the institute is treating several burn wound people since the Chawakbazar fire broke out two days ago.
The premier said the government had launched an initiative to relocate the warehouses of flammable products nine years ago when the Nimtali tragedy occurred but the effort was upset due to reluctance of the warehouse owners.
“We undertook a project and earmarked a place at Keraniganj for relocating the warehouses, some of which legal and some illegal, from the old part of Dhaka to check repeat of such incidents in future,” she said.
But, she said, it was a matter of regret “the decision could not be implemented as they (owners) did not agree”.
The PM said the government had planned to build modern warehouses for the chemical godowns in Keraniganj particularly to ensure fire safety where any blaze could be contained promptly before it could cause any casualty or major damage.
Sheikh Hasina said the chemical warehouse owners at that time wanted government plots “but my question was what they will do with the plots”.
She re-extended her previous proposal under which the government would develop the modern warehouses to be rented out to chemical warehouse owners.
“It is very much necessary,” the premier said.
Sheikh Hasina also urged all concerned to stay alert against recurrence of Chawkbazar tragedy anywhere, particularly in Old Dhaka.
She expressed her profound sympathy to the family members of those who were burnt to death and injured by the blaze and said “the government will do everything possible for the treatment of the injured”.