Twenty environmental organisations yesterday demanded that all 17 decisions, which were taken by the government after the 2010 Nimtoli fire incident, be implemented.
The demand came at a rally led by Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) in front of Bangladesh National Museum in the capital, nine days into the devastating fire at Chawkbazar that left at least 70 people dead.
“Among the 17 recommendations, six are related to ban on import, storage and use of 29 most dangerous chemicals in residential areas and ensuring its proper transportation, storing and use,” said Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of Bapa, reading out a written statement.
But in the last nine years, there was serious negligence in implementing those by the authorities concerned, that put certain areas under severe risk, he said.
Other important recommendations include keeping residential areas free from electrical hazards, setting up fire hydrants, raising awareness and preparing volunteers to ensure public safety, he said.
“As none of the government directives after the 2010 Nimtoli fire were implemented, we had to face the incident of Chawkbazar,” said Nazim Uddin, a resident of Old Dhaka.
Demanding relocation of chemical warehouses and factories and low-quality gas cylinders from Old Dhaka, resident of the area Sohag Mohajon said he could have been a victim of the blaze on February 20, as he had passed the spot just an hour before the incident.
He said there are lots of shoe factories in different alleys of the old town, which use flammable chemicals.
Environment activist Dr Mahbub Hossain said these kinds of incidents are happening due to corruption.
Participant Dr M Abu Sayeed said when state machinery remains silent, it causes this kind of man-made disasters.
The group's other demands include: taking initiatives to ensure every residential area is free from disaster risk and making it liveable setting up a “Compliance Commission”, completing due process of revising the Bangladesh National Building Code and implementing it as early as possible.
Bapa General Secretary Abdul Matin presided over the rally, where representatives of Green Voice and Youth Foundation spoke.