April 24, 2024, 8:25 am

Over 2,000 Chemical businesses running illegally in Old Dhaka

  • Update Time : Monday, May 3, 2021
  • 274 Time View
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Special Correspondent

Despite frequent fire incidents, over 2,000 factories and warehouses have been running brisk business illegally at Old Dhaka for long that posing serious risk of deadly fire.

On the other hand, deadly fire incidents are occurring one after another that claiming lives of many people. Consequently, many say, Old Dhaka has now turned into a crematorium, where many people are losing their lives being roasted alive.

But, there is no headache of the authorities concerned over the issue except discussions, while any tragedy occurs.

According to the sources, there are over 2,000 chemical and chemical related businesses, which have been running illegally for long. They have no valid approval from the Fire Service, Department of the Environment and City Corporation.

Though, those are running businesses on the top of nose of the authorities concerned, they do not have any trade license, which is mandatory for running a business.

Renewal of licenses has been remained suspended by the City Corporation since after the Nimtoli fire tragedy, while issuance of new licenses has also been remained stopped.

Local said, even then, the businesses have been running illegally for more than 10 years. As a result, city dwellers are experiencing deadly fire incidents one after another. But, none has attention on this regard so far.

More than 200 lives have already been lost, while crores of Taka has been lost. However, the traders claim that they are being forced to stay in old Dhaka because their company has not been relocated.

At least four people were killed and 20 others sustained burn injuries in a devastating fire at an illegal chemical warehouse in Old Dhaka’s Armanitola on April 23.

ABM Amin Ullah Nuri, Chief Executive Officer of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) said, “There are over 2,000 different types of chemical warehouses and factories in old Dhaka. These chemical businesses are running illegally. None of these businesses has a trade license. We can’t evict them due to the government some problems.”

He said, a committee headed by the cabinet secretary has been formed in this regard. We have sent a list of chemical companies in the old Dhaka area to that committee. The high-level government committee has not yet made a decision over the issue. If the government decides, the next step will be taken in this regard.

When asked, Arif Hossain, General Secretary of Bangladesh Chemical and Perfumery Merchant Association said, “We have been running chemical business centering Old Dhaka for a long time. It is true that such businesses are unsafe in residential areas. That is why, we also want to get out of here, but the government is not able to take any action.”

“As we have no license, so we are now illegal. Once, we had trade licenses. In that light, we also had a scope for bank loan. In this case, if the city corporation does not renew the license, everything will be illegal. On the other hand, they are not able to shift our business at safer places. It’s failure of the government,” he added.

On June 3 in 2010, a terrible fire broke out in Nimtali of Old Dhaka that claimed  lives of 124 people. Later, the Prime Minister directed to relocate the chemical warehouse and factory in Old Dhaka. At that time, the authorities concerned took various initiatives including forming committees and submitting different recommendations. The Ministry of Industries also took various steps to remove the chemical warehouse from old Dhaka.

In such a situation, the City Corporation stopped issuing and renewing the new trade licenses of the chemical and chemical related companies of old Dhaka. Thus, a long time has already been passed. Due to the indecision of the government, the city corporation could not carry out any eviction campaign to stop the business of chemical traders in old Dhaka. Along with the previous legal institutions, new more illegal institutions have been established there, which have now become the name of a big panic for the people of old Dhaka.

Locals said, if effective measures were taken after the Nimtali incident, tragic incident would not have been repeated at Churihatta on February 20 in 2019 that claimed the lives of 78 people including women and children.

In less than two years, another fire incident took place at Armanitola in Old Dhaka on April 23 leaving four persons dead.

The deadly fire incidents have come up for discussion again as the summer season has already onset.

Although these institutions need to be removed soon, the people concerned are not taking any effective steps in this regard.

During a spot visit to the area, this correspondent found that, the sale and use of chemicals were going on smoothly in Kamalbagh, Islambagh and Chawkbazar areas of old Dhaka.

It was also seen on the spot that the workers were filling chemicals to a small drum from a big drum in a house on the alley road near Kamalbagh embankment in old Dhaka. After standing there for a while, it was seen that two people were taking two trolleys towards Islamabad in a wheelbarrow. There is no signboard in the shop supplying chemicals.

Mushtaq Ahmed, Chairman of BSCIC said, “We are trying to relocate the chemical factories and warehouses to Munshiganj under a government project. But, the project works did not progress as per expectation due to various reasons. If the project is implemented, it will possible to relocate the chemical warehouses and factories to Munshiganj from Old Dhaka.”


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