Former minister of industries Dilip Barua has blamed Awami League leader and former Minister of Industries Amir Hossain Amu, for not removing chemical warehouses and factories from Old Dhaka.
Barua made the remarks on Saturday after visiting the Chawkbazar area with a delegation from the Awami League’s 14 Party Alliance.
Barua, who had been the minister of industries during the Nimtali fire in 2014, told reporters:
“If the next minister of industries had seriously taken up the matter of removing chemical warehouses and factories from the area then maybe it would have been easy to relocate them from Old Dhaka by this time.”
At least 67 people lost their lives after a massive blaze broke out at the Churihatta intersection in Chawkbazar on Wednesday night.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire started after a pickup truck’s gas cylinder exploded at the intersection and spread to five nearby buildings.
Fire service officials believe the fire was further stoked by the combustible chemicals, plastics and cosmetics at nearby stores and warehouses.
An investigation into the Nimtali fire of 2010, where over a hundred people lost their lives, had recommended that chemical warehouses and factories be removed from Old Dhaka.
But nine years later the warehouses were still there and contributed to the Churihatta disaster, experts say.
“During my tenure as minister we took decisions to relocate the chemical businesses. The Chemical Merchant Association and BASIC took a joint decision to relocate on to land outside Dhaka. This was our promise. But it did not come to pass due to some discreet issues.”
The Samyabadi Dal leader Dilip Barua said that the ‘social corporate responsibility’ needed to make Dhaka a safe and liveable place had not been developed.
“The stakeholders were not able to force the government. The building owners also bear responsibility. They rent to warehouses (of chemical materials) to make more money and then hide it.”
The former minister of industries also urged the home ministry and the city corporation to be stricter in issuing permits to chemical warehouses.