• Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Chemical warehouses still endanger Old Dhaka

  • Published at 06:02 pm February 19th, 2020
Chemical warehouses
File photo: A chemical warehouse caught fire in Kadamtali area of Keraniganj on Sunday, January 5, 2020 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Two more years for relocation

The relocation of chemical warehouses and factories from a densely populated Old Dhaka within the shortest time possible has been a key promise of senior public officials for a long time.

The pledges began to be made a little over nine years ago after 124 people were killed and scores were injured in a fire originating in a chemical store in Nabab Katra neighbourhood in Nimtoli on June 3, 2010.

Moving the chemical factories and warehouses out of Dhaka was one of the 17 recommendations by the home ministry committee formed after the Nimtoli tragedy.

However, chemical warehouses remain in operation in the old town, illegally storing highly combustible chemical compounds and so putting people's lives at risk.

The Chemical Industrial Park, an area given over to space for all chemical warehouses and factories, will come into operation from 2022, said project officials.

According to an estimate by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan (Bapa), there are about 25,000 warehouses of chemical products in nearly 15,000 residential buildings in Old Dhaka, although the city corporation had issued licences for only 2,500.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) in October 2018 approved the BSCIC Chemical Industrial Park project at an estimated cost of Tk201.81 crore, and subsequently appointed a project director in January 2019.

After a month, another 71 people were killed in a massive fire at Churihatta area of Chawkbazar in Dhaka a year ago today. At the time, top government officials once again reiterated that they would work on the relocation plan as a high priority.

Chemical Industrial Park to come into operation in 2022

Officials at Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) said although the chemical industrial park was earlier planned at Keraniganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, the authorities later planned to set it up on a stretch of 310 acres of land in Sirajdikhan upazila of Munshiganj.

Project Director Saiful Alam confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.

The park would come into operation from 2022, according to project officials.

Tk201.81 crore was earlier allocated for 50 acres of land in Keraniganj and over Tk1,615 crore was later allocated for 308.33 acres of land in Sirajdikhan upazila of Sunamganj.

The deadline for the completion of the project was extended to June 2022, BSCIC Director Ataur Rahman Siddique said. The project was supposed to be completed by 2020-2021.

Despite the fact that generally it takes five to seven years for land requisition in a project, BSCIC completed it within three months after Ecnec gave it the nod, he said.

“We are now eagerly waiting for the allocation of the rest of the money. When we get the fund, we can pay the landowner via the office of the Deputy Commissioner,” he said.

Plan at a glance

The Chemical Park will house an eight-story building, chemical research centre, police station, fire brigade office, mosque, medical centre, association or corporate office and other essential facilities.

The project document shows that the chemical park will have 25,000 industrial plots, but primarily 2,154 plots will be allocated among entrepreneurs and business owners.

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