Dhaka Fire: Fire incidents and our negligence
12:00 AM, February 26, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 26, 2019

Fire incidents and our negligence

On 10 June, 2010, the High Court Division(HCD) of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh ordered the government formed probe committee headed by the home secretary to find causes of the Nimtoli fire incident occurred on 3 June 2010 and to submit a report thereof within three months. It was also required of the government formed committee to identify the unauthorised buildings, warehouses and factories where chemicals, explosives and other flammable or petroleum products (both authorised and unauthorised) were stored and to submit the report to it within three months.

It also issued a rule asking the authorities to explain why they should not be ordered to ensure safe and planned development of Old Dhaka and prevent the unauthorised setting up or use of buildings as warehouses and factories.

Advocate Sara Hossain, the lawyer of the six human rights organisations who moved the petition to the honourable court told The Daily Star that the government was yet to respond to the order and rule issued by the HCD after the Nimtoli tragedy and the Court did not pass any further order on this issue. She would move another petition on behalf of her clients before the HCD next week for punishment of the people responsible for Chawkbazar disaster and adequate compensation for the victims' families, The Daily Star reports on 22 February 2019.

The Building Construction Act 1952, in it section 18A, empowers the government to make any provision namely Bangladesh Building Code. The 2006 Building Code specifically deals with general building requirements, control and regulation; fire protection; building materials; structural design; construction practices and safety; building services; alteration, addition to and change of use of existing building; sign and outdoor display; matters relating to administration and enforcement of the above matters.

Despite such laws existing in Bangladesh, monitoring and enforcing safety in construction is still a big challenge due to various limitations such as confusion regarding enforcement authority, shortage of manpower at enforcing agencies, and lack of a national safety certification and licensing programme for engineers, contractors and workers.

Earlier in the case of BLAST and another v Bangladesh and others, Writ Petition No. 718 of 2008, the HCD directed the government to explain within four weeks why its failure to date to establish a government agency as provided for under the Bangladesh National Building Construction Code, 2006 for enforcement of the law, does not constitute a breach of its statutory and constitutional duties. The Court also directed the government to submit a statement to the Court setting out what steps it has taken to secure the safety of construction workers since the Code became law in November 2006. However, the current status of the petition is that it is pending for hearing.


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