Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday regretted that chemical warehouses could not be relocated from Old Dhaka due to owners' reluctance.
“The government wanted to construct ultramodern storehouses with all facilities in Keraniganj for preserving chemicals. As the owners were not ready to go there, the project couldn't be implemented...this is the most regretful matter,” she told reporters after visiting the victims of Chawkbazar fire at Dhaka Medical College Hospital in the morning.
The PM said following the devastating fire at Nimtoli in Old Dhaka in 2010, the government had taken up a project to construct warehouses in Keraniganj.
“We had prepared a project and selected a place in Keraniganj...we had discussions with all stakeholders to relocate the chemical warehouses so that incidents like in Nimtoli do not reoccur.”
She regretted that many owners showed reluctance to shift to a new place. “It is unfortunate that still there are chemical warehouses in Old Dhaka despite repeated drives against it.”
Hasina urged all people concerned to extend their all-out cooperation in relocating chemical storehouses.
Regarding the announcement of a mourning day, the PM said she would discuss the matter with the cabinet secretary tomorrow.
Hasina said the government has taken all possible measures for the treatment of the fire victims as the country now has the most modern medical care facilities for such victims.
She put emphasis on restructuring the lanes and by-lanes of Old Dhaka so that fire engines could go there during any fire.
“Let's make sure that ponds and canals are not filled up...these have to be preserved for future use.”
The PM criticised a section of TV journalists for causing obstructions to firefighters in carrying out their duties.
“They [TV reporters] were asking questions one after another. I don't know whether that was the perfect time for asking questions. How do you [reporters] expect answers from them [firefighters]? Was that the time for asking questions?”
Hasina requested the people who usually gather during such incidents not to create obstacles to the works of firefighters. “You could bring some water or sand while coming to the scene of an incident...that would be of little help to all.”
She thanked all, including firefighters, doctors and other people concerned, for acting promptly during the fire incident.
Arriving at the DMCH around 10:30am, Hasina went to the ICU of the Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute to see the conditions of the nine injured people.
She also consoled their family members, saying that the government would do everything for their proper treatment.