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22 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Experts rue failure to relocate factories

RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD, Dhaka
Experts rue failure to relocate factories

Experts, urban planners and environmentalists have blamed failure of the authorities to relocate storerooms containing flammable materials and plastic product factories from the congested residential areas of old Dhaka to a safe zone. This, they said, was causing repeated incidents of fire claiming lives.

Some of them identified the deaths due to the fire incidents, their sudden spread to availability of flammable materials and plastic products, and increase in the number of casualties as the outcome of negligence, inactiveness and reluctance of the authorities. The experts observed that the urban planners are now talking about mixed land use, but it should be a compatible one. Plastic, flammable and chemical-based factories and their storerooms cannot be allowed in residential areas, they added.    

They reminded the government to immediately shift the plastic factories, storerooms and shops of flammable materials from the densely populated residential areas in the old town to specialised areas. Only then could recurrence of Nimtoli and Churihatta tragedies could be avoided.

They made the observations a day after the devastating fire at Churihatta, in Chalkbazar, left at least 70 people dead.

After the devastating Nimtoli tragedy in 2010, it was decided that there would not be any chemical storeroom and plastic factories in the residential areas of old Dhaka. There is a plan and policy, but the task was not implemented, said eminent urban planner Prof. Nazrul Islam.

He put emphasis on the need to properly follow the land use policy—which land should be used for which purpose—to avoid such incidents.

Prof. Nazrul, chairman of the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), said since its beginning, Dhaka city has expanded in an unplanned manner and amid mixed use of lands.

He, however, mentioned that during the Pakistani regime, the Pakistan Improvement Trust (PIT) had specified some specialised zones such as an industrial zone in Tejgaon, a residential zone in Dhanmondi, a medical zone in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.

He said if it is necessary, mixed land use should be compatible and existence of chemical, flammable and plastic-based factories cannot be allowed in the residential areas.

“A proper planning is needed to relocate chemical- and flammable materials-based factories from the old city by taking appropriate rehabilitation measures so that owners agree to relocate their businesses,” he added.

He alleged that the shifting of suchfactories is being delayed due to administrative weakness, interference by quarters with vested interests and a section of corrupt people.

The urban planner said there should be coordination among Rajuk, Dhaka city corporations, Ministries of Planning and Industries to determine which things should stay in the old town.

He called upon the government to shift the chemical and flammable materials based factories without out delay and hesitation.

Urban planner Iqbal Habib said that after the Nimtoli incident the government identified two places in Kamrangirchar and Keraniganj to relocate the chemical- and flammable materials-based factories from the old city. “The authorities were supposed to identify the factories which should be away from the residential areas by tagging them with yellow and red mark. Neither they (owners) moved away on their own, nor were they forced to shift to safe areas,” he added.

Iqbal Habib, also an architect, claimed that about 1,000 small fire incidents took place in the last nine years after the Nimtoli incident, leaving many people dead, but the authorities did not take those into cognizance. He suggested that the government should implement the plan to relocate the chemical and flammable materials based factories without any delay.

Environmentalist Md Abdul Matin said owners of chemical- and flammable materials-based factories do not want to shift their business from the residential areas to designated places.

“Such factories cannot be allowed in densely populated residential areas,” he added.

Matin, who is also the general secretary of the Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, said there was no need to hold meetings or seminars over the matter. “It is high time to shift chemical and flammable materials based factories from the old city,” he added.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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