Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said that the Chawk Bazar tragedy would be a lesson for chemical warehouse owners in Old Dhaka and hoped they would not refuse to relocate their warehouse elsewhere this time.
‘I hope that those who had earlier refused to relocate their chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka will not hesitate after the tragedy,’ she told journalists after visiting the burn victims of the Chawk Bazar fire at the National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka.
The institute that operated under the Dhaka Medical College Hospital was treating several victims since the Chawk Bazar fire broke out on Wednesday night.
The prime minister said that the government had launched an initiative to relocate the warehouses of flammable products nine years ago when the Nimtali tragedy occurred but the effort failed due to the reluctance of the warehouse owners.
‘We undertook a project and earmarked a place in Keraniganj for relocating the warehouses, some legal and some illegal, from the old part of Dhaka to check repetition of such incidents in future,’ she said.
She said that it was unfortunate the owners did not agree to relocate their warehouses then and the project could not be implemented.
The prime minister said that the government had planned to build modern warehouses for the chemical warehouses in Keraniganj, particularly to ensure fire safety, where any blaze could be contained promptly before it could cause any casualty or major damage.
Hasina said that the chemical warehouse owners at the time wanted government plots.
She reiterated her previous proposal under which the government would develop the modern warehouses to be rented out to chemical warehouse owners.
Hasina also urged all concerned to stay alert against recurrence of the Chawk Bazar 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 that the government would do everything possible for the treatment of the injured.
She said that she would announce a national day of mourning for the Chawk Bazar tragedy victims after consultation with the officials on Sunday and all out efforts had been taken for the treatment of the victims.
The prime minister put emphasis on redesigning the roads and by-lanes of Old Dhaka as the narrow and congested lanes made it difficult for firefighters to reach the scenes of incidents with their heavy equipment.
She also stressed the preservation of existing water bodies everywhere in the capital and said that it must be ensured the ponds and canals were not filled up as they had important purposes to serve.
Hasina criticised some television channels for broadcasting the fire incidents live that largely interrupted the works of firefighters during the rescue operation.
She requested people who usually gathered during such kind of incidents not to create obstacles for firefighters and rescue workers.
She thanked all, including the firefighters, doctors and other concerned, for acting promptly during the Chawk Bazar fire.
Earlier on arriving at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Hasina directly went to the intensive care unit of the burn institute and visited the nine victims undergoing treatment in critical condition there.
She also spoke to the family members of the injured and assured them of all necessary support from the government.
Health minister Zahid Maleque, state minister for relief and disaster management Enamur Rahman, state minister for health Murad Hasan, mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation Sayeed Khokan, institute coordinator Doctor Samant Lal Sen, member of parliament Hazi Selim and hospital director Brigadier General Nasir Uddin accompanied her along with senior PMO officials during the visit.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country