Clandestine chemical storage on in old Dhaka

Sheikh Jahangir Alam
Published : 00:01, May 28, 2019 | Updated : 16:36, May 28, 2019

Following the horrific fire at Chawkbazar in the Old Dhaka, the South City Corporation (DSCC) began removing chemical warehouses.
Though the chemical warehouses were supposed to be shifted to the under-construction separate zone ‘Chemical Palli’ in Keraniganj, in reality, it has not happened.
There are several risky warehouses still in Old Dhaka.
Three months after the Chawkbazar disaster claiming at least 70 lives, there are chemical warehouses in several areas of the old part of the city.
It’s found that many homes secretly house chemicals. Locals in Mahout tuli say that chemicals are brought after 11 pm in big containers and are taken inside homes before dawn and then locked.
From the outside, it’s difficult to guess that the houses store chemicals.
When police come, they are not allowed to enter the houses, says a local.
However, the tragedy at Churihatta has raised awareness among people and many shops in old Dhaka were found to be in possession of fire extinguishers.
Meanwhile, Bongshal thana acting OC, Md Sahidur Rahman, says: “there aren’t any warehouses in Bongshal. “
Chemical traders of old Dhaka say that after the Churihatta tragedy, the market has been removed from Armanitola and currently, only general chemicals are being kept.
A trader says emphatically: “the warehouses of flammable items have been removed from Armanitola; we now have general chemicals which are non-flammable.”
DSCC and explosive department also say there aren’t any chemical warehouses in old Dhaka.
DSCC sources add that the task force formed to remove chemical warehouses disconnected power lines of 162 institutions. 27 were sealed and time given to 35 organisations.
In addition, fines of Tk 9.72 million were slapped on institutions for breach of safety.
Executive official of DSCC, Md. Mostafizur Rahman, observes: “The 36 highly flammable items are no longer in old Dhaka; those being sold in Armanitola have permission and are not dangerous.”
Chief explosives inspector of the explosive department of the ministry of power, energy and minerals, Md Samsul Alam, adds: “We carried out a drive to remove warehouses till Apr 1 and need the support of other government agencies to find houses that are being used to secretly store chemicals.”
If the city corporation carries out another drive after Eid then we will be part of it, he added.