The Chemical Palli is now being shifted to a much wider space after the devastating fire in Old Dhaka on February 20 that killed at least 67 people.
A new move has been taken to shift the Palli from 50 acres of land in Keraniganj planned earlier to 310 acres of land in Sirajdikhan, Munshiganj after the present site was found a populated area.It came as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to make the congested old part of Dhaka free of chemical business that is blamed for repeated fires in that area.
The existing project is being revised to create 2,154 plots for chemical business with raising the project cost to Tk 1,649 crore (16.49 billion) from originally estimated Tk 202 crore, Planning Commission sources said.
“Even though Keraniganj was selected earlier for setting up a dedicated chemical Palli, Sirajdikhan has now been selected as the project site since the previous site is a populated area,” said a Planning Commission high official.
Investigators suspect that the recent fire in Churihatta of Chawkbazar in Old Dhaka was caused by explosions from the stockpiles of flammable chemicals.
The government had taken the initiative of setting up a separate chemical Palli after a similar fire incident at Nimtali, Dhaka on June 03 in 2010.
Trading of chemical goods is a thriving business in Old Dhaka city, posing huge life risks to the inhabitants of this part of the bustling city.There are some 4,000 warehouses of explosive and flammable chemicals in Old Dhaka, which is very risky for a residential area, according to Industries Ministry sources.
Following the Nimtali incident, the government undertook ‘BSCIC Chemical Palli Dhaka’ project to set up a chemical business estate with modern facilities on 50 acres of land in Keraniganj with a plan to complete it during July 2018-June 2021 period.
ECNEC, the top economic policy-making body headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, gave nod to the Tk 202 crore project on October 30 last year.
The project has now been placed at the Planning Commission for first revision to the project and getting final approval from ECNEC.
The commission already held a meeting of the project evaluation committee (PEC) on the first revision proposal recently and made a set of recommendations to bring changes to the revised proposal, the commission officials informed.
Once approved, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) is expected to complete the setting up of the estate by June 2022, according to the new deadline.
The new initiative is expected to give a permanent solution to hazardous chemical business in Dhaka city, especially in the old part, as it will help shift chemical warehouses to a more environment-friendly and comparatively less populated area.
The new site will have all the infrastructure facilities and firefighting equipment.
Besides, it will create jobs for some 20,000 people, which will contribute to GDP growth, official sources said.
The main project activity includes acquiring 310 acres land, setting up one fire service unit, construction of 5,730 metres boundary wall, 31,325 metres water line, 31,940 metres electricity line, 6,000 metres gas line, two jetties, one CETP, dumping yard and an incinerator, among others.
Meanwhile, the government has taken another initiative of setting up 54 temporary chemical warehouses at Kadamtali, Shyampur as a solution for the interim period until the permanent estate is ready.
The cost of this interim project has been estimated at Tk 80 crore, which will come into operation by June next year.