The victims of the devastating Chawkbazar fire in Old Dhaka that killed at least 70 people, left scores of other injured and badly damaged at least six buildings, on February 20, were neither rehabilitated nor compensations paid to them in four months.
Relatives of the dead said that they were passing a miserable life since losing only earning members of their families.
The government’s probe reports say that the fire originated from a chemical warehouse located at Wahed Mansion, a commercial building on the Nanda Kumar Dutta Lane, Churihatta, barely 2.5km away from Nimtoli where a deadly fire from chemical explosion killed 124 people in 2010.
The Nimtoli fire promoted the government to relocate chemical depots, factories and storage facilities from the over populated Old Dhaka.
Ashiq Uddin Soinik of Nanda Kumar Datta Lane, Churihatta told New Age that chemical concerns return to the densely populated areas of Old Dhaka immediately after the taskforce’s drives against these illegal businesses end.
He said that obviously people live in panic in Old Dhaka.
Residents said that they were exposed to time-bombs.
They said that no compensations were paid to the victims as the government had announced after the Chawkbazar fire.
But the government only provided Tk 20,000 for the burial or cremation of each dead person.
Halima Khatun, whose husband Kamal Hossain died in the Chawkbazar fire said as she and her six daughters had none to support ‘We have gone back to Mozahidpur, Begumganj, Noakhali.
She said that Kamal, the only earning member of her family was a salesman at a cosmetics shop.
She urged the government to rehabilitate her family and pay the due compensations ‘to help us stand on our own.’
The Disaster Ministry can provide no assistance other than paying the cost of burial under the rules, additional secretary Md Akram Hossain told New Age.
The government even did not distribute Tk 30 crore donated by private banks to the prime minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund for the Chawkbazar fire victims.
Meanwhile the owner of the Wahed Mansion started to reconstruct his building without any engineering clearance from the authorities.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology professor also a member of a probe committee said that they were not aware about the condition of Wahed Mansion.
‘Building owner did not obtain engineering clearance about the condition of his structure as he was asked,’ he said.
Deputy inspector general of the department of inspection of factories and establishment Ahmed Belal said that after the fire they have made a list of 27 dead victim workers to give them financial support from Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation.
BLWF director general Anisul Awal said that they expect to pay over Tk one lakh for each dead victim worker but could not do it in last two months due to various complications.
He told New Age on Sunday that that the dead workers would get the money within 15 days.
Belal said that the survey to enlist the business houses in the area was continuing.
‘So far we found 4,276 business houses including factories, each employing more than five workers in Old Dhaka,’ he said.
‘We filed at least 50 cases with the labour court against factories lacking workers’ safety,’ he said.
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