Jatiya Oikyafront Convener Dr Kamal Hossain on Tuesday blamed the government’s irresponsible role for the Chawkbazar fire as it did not take any step in compliance with a High Court order to make the Old Dhaka safe for people after the deadly Nimtoli fire incident in 2010.
“After the Nimtoli fire incident nine years ago, the High Court ordered the government to take steps to make the Old Dhaka safe for people and stop the recurrence of such an incident. However, we never saw the government to take any step. We only witnessed its silence. Why is this irresponsibility even after such a court order?” he said.
Dr Kamal, also the Gono Forum president, said had the government taken proper steps at the right time so many people would not have lost their lives in the Chawkbazar fire.
He came up with the remarks while speaking at a civic condolence meeting arranged by his party at the Jatiya Press Club in memory of those killed in Chawkbazar fire on February 20 last.
Dr Kamal said the country’s 16 crore people want answers why such a fire incident took place and why so many innocent people had to lose their lives without committing any crime at Chawkbazar.
At least 69 people were killed and 39 others injured after a devastating fire broke out at a chemical warehouse and raged through several nearby buildings at Chawkbazar on February 20.
On June 3, 2010, at least 124 people (117 on the spot, others later at hospitals) were killed in a devastating fire that originated in the Nimtoli area an electrical transformer explosion.
On June 10, 2010, the High Court asked the government probe committee issued a rule asking the authorities to explain as to why they should not be directed to ensure safe and planned development of Old Dhaka and prevent the unauthorised setting up or use of buildings as warehouses and factories and use of flammable or petroleum products.
Dr Kamal said it is the responsibility of the state and the government to ensure the security of people and their lives. “We want to know what steps you took over the last nine years as per the court order. Why didn’t you take any action over all those nine years? We want an answer.”
He said a sense of responsibility and morality and love for people are necessary to take the right decisions and plans to solve the country’s problems and ensure security of people.
“We’re now waiting to see what steps the government takes to make Old Dhaka safer and rebuild it in a planned way to prevent such deadly fire incidents. There’s no scope to take the issue lightly. The chemical factories should be relocated from the Old Dhaka,” the Gono Forum chief said.
He also urged the government to take action against those responsible for Chawkbazar fire.
Dr Kamal said he has long been observing that the current government does not want to comply with the court orders. “So, I want you (people) must play an active role as the owners of the country in forcing the government to obey the court orders.”
He said people must raise their voice and get organised to restore their ownership of the country and make the government accountable.
Speaking at the programme, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President ASM Abdur Rob said the Chawkbazar fire took place due to irresponsible attitude of the government. “It’s astonishing that the government took five days to observe a morning day in memory of so many people who have been killed in the fire.”
BNP standing committee member Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan said the government has failed to take a pragmatic plan and step to make Old Dhaka safer for people over the last 10 years.
He urged the government to take effective plans to relocate the chemical and plastic warehouses and factories from to another place from densely populated Old Dhaka without affecting the businessmen.
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Gono Forum executive president Subrata Chowdhury, general secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu, former information minister Prof Abu Sayeed and Gonoshasthya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, among others, spoke at the programme.
At the beginning of the programme, a one-minute silence was observed in memory of the Chawkbazar fire victims.unb