Relocation of chemical factories
CHEMICAL factories and depots are not permissible in residential areas. The government has clear policies on the matter and the High Court had issued stern directives in this regard. However the reality of the situation is far from ideal.
After the Nimtoli inferno last year, authorities called for the immediate relocation of chemical depots situated in residential areas of Old Dhaka, but till date there has been no progress in following these instructions. The Nimtoli incident is a blazing example that remains etched in our minds reinforcing the fact that combustible chemical factories in crowded residential areas like Old Dhaka can be like sitting on time bombs about to ignite without any prior warning.
In close succession to the Nimtoli incident, there have been others too which have accentuated concern about the issue. The recent clash in South Keraniganj that led to the blockade of Dhaka-Mawa highway is another example which shows that residents are not sitting idle on matters of relocation of the chemical factories from their locality.
After scores of people had fallen sick in that particular area from inhaling toxic gases emitted from the factory and having witnessed several explosions in the recent past, locals began to fear an impending explosion. As a result of restlessness due to sluggish or little progress in matters of relocation, the residents have taken the law in their own hands, which cannot be condoned.
The demand that chemical factories and warehouses be removed from residential areas should be responded to on a priority basis. That is the message that rings out of the Keraniganj issue. Local residents dissatisfied over the location of chemical factories in their areas would do well to bring pressure on ward commissioners and environmental authorities seeking urgent relocation of the factories from their habitats. Vandalising public and private property or wreaking havoc in the locality could do more harm than good to their cause.