Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said there is a “standing directive” from the prime minister to remove all chemical establishments immediately from Old Dhaka.
“The process is on. Initially, the risky and illegal chemical warehouses and establishments will be removed from Chawkbazar and nearby areas. There will be no compromise in this regard,” he said.
The minister was briefing journalists in front of Hazi Wahed Mansion, where a devastating fire broke out Wednesday night and claimed lives of at least 67 people.
Replying to a query on why chemical establishments were not removed despite recommendations after the 2010 Nimtoli blaze, he said, “This time the government has taken all necessary measures to address the lack of [previous] coordination. A new journey starts through learning lessons from previous mistakes.”
About the danger of CNG-run vehicles, he said, “The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority chairman has already been directed to take steps in this regard.”
'BNP POLITICISING TRAGEDY'
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud yesterday at a book launching event in Chattogram said the comment of BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir over the Chawkbazar fire in Dhaka indicates “the party could have connection with the incident”.
“He [Fakhrul] said the fire broke out due to the absence of democracy in the country -- this is an irresponsible remark. We should investigate if they had any link to the incident,” the minister said, reports our Chattogram correspondent.
Hasan said it was inappropriate for BNP leaders to bring politics in every issue.
“The entire nation is mourning the loss of lives. As a conscious political party, BNP should have demonstrated solidarity. They are politicising the incident inappropriately,” he added.
'COULD'VE BEEN AVOIDED'
Meanwhile, GM Quader said the Chawkbazar incident could have been avoided had the government taken actions after the deadly fire incident at Dhaka's Nimtoli.
The deputy leader of the opposition in parliament said this while visiting the burn victims at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday.
'CAR'S GAS CYLINDER BLAST BEHIND FIRE'
The Chawkbazar fire originated from a blast of a private car's gas cylinder, said Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon yesterday. Quoting police, the mayor made the disclosure during his visit to the spot.
“I have come to know from police that the fire was caused by a private car's gas cylinder explosion,” he said while briefing reporters.
There were one or two more cars which came in contact with the blast instantly, he quoted police as saying.
However, a latest footage obtained by The Daily Star yesterday evening suggested that the fire originated from an explosion on the second floor of Hazi Wahed Mansion, where perfume cans were stored.
The mayor also said warehouse owners will face legal action if they store any flammable substance in Old Dhaka from now on.
He also urged locals to stay alert in this regard.
“If anyone violates the instruction, please inform the city corporation, nearby police stations or deputy commissioners immediately,” he told reporters.
People can call the number -- 9556015 -- to inform the authorities in this regard.
Meanwhile, the DSCC authorities yesterday started to relocate the flammable chemicals, which fuelled the fire in the area, from the basement of Hazi Wahed Mansion.