Expressing dissatisfaction at the authorities' failure to implement the government probe committee's 17 recommendations over the 2010 Nimtoli fire, the High Court yesterday questioned their inaction.
The court issued a rule asking them to explain in four weeks why their failure to implement the recommendations to prevent the incident in Chawkbazar, which killed at least 69 people, should not be declared illegal.
In the rule, it also asked the respondents to show causes why they should not be directed to take appropriate steps immediately for adopting effective laws and guidelines for production, storage, handling, selling and use of combustive, corrosive and explosive substances, especially chemicals and petroleum products, and to ensure complete compliance of the laws and guideline.
Officials concerned, including secretaries to the ministries of home, mineral resources, industries and cabinet division, director general of fire service and civil defence, mayors of Dhaka (south and north) city corporations, and director general of environment department, have been made respondents.
After the Nimtoli tragedy that killed 124 people, the probe committee was formed and it made 17 recommendations, including relocating the warehouses to non-residential areas, enforcing Fire Prevention and Extinguishing Rules 2003 and Bangladesh National Building Code, installing separate hydrant points in different areas and raising awareness from an early age through textbooks.
The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader came up with the rule after they heard a writ petition jointly filed by Supreme Court lawyers --Nur Mohammad Azami and Khandoker Md Sayadul Kawsar -- seeking necessary order.
The court said the bureaucrats had not implemented any of the 17 recommendations of the probe committee.
It wanted to order the government to give Tk 4 lakh to each of the Chawkbazar fire victims' families for immediate necessities, as the government decided to give each Tk 1 lakh.
But Attorney General Mahbubey Alam requested the court not to pass such order yesterday, saying that he would inform the authorities about the court's desire.
The court then said it would pass an order about compensation for the victims' families after hearing the government's decision.
Ruhul Quddus Kazal and Amit Das Gupta appeared for the petitioners.
Yesterday, the same HC bench kept three other writ petitions filed over the Chawkbazar incident waiting for hearing for four weeks.
On Sunday, four separate writ petitions, including that of Azami and Sayadul, were filed with the HC over the incident, seeking compensation for the affected families and punishment for those responsible, among other things.
SC lawyer Eunus Ali Akond filed one of the petitions, seeking HC directives on the government to offer compensation of Tk 30 lakh for each of the victims' families.
He also sought an HC order on the government to form a judicial inquiry commission to find the cause of the Chawkbazar fire, identify those responsible for the blaze and take punitive actions against them.
Another SC lawyer ZI Khan Panna and Old Dhaka resident Zabed Miah filed two other petitions.