Chemical godowns not removed for owners’ unwillingness: PM

Dhaka, Feb 23 (UNB) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said it is regretful that chemical godowns in Old Dhaka could not be relocated for the reluctance of owners.

“The government wanted to construct ultramodern godowns with all facilities in Kerniganj for preserving chemicals. As the owners were not ready to go there, the project couldn’t be implemented’…this is the most regretful matter,” she told reporters after visiting the victims of Chawkbazar fire at the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital in the morning.

After the devastating fire incident at Nimtoli in Old Dhaka, the Prime Minister said, the government had taken project to construct godowns in Keraniganj area.

“We had prepared a project and selected a place in Keraniganj…we had discussions with all stakeholders to relocate the chemical godowns from here to the new place so that incidents like Nimtoli one do not occur in Old Dhaka,” she said.

But, she regretted, many of the godowns owners showed reluctance to be shifted to the new place. “It’s unfortunate that still there are chemical godowns in Old Dhaka despite repeated drives against it,” she said.

Hasina urged all concerned to extend their all-out cooperation in removing chemical godowns from Old Dhaka.

The Prime Minister said it would be most urgent to construct godowns with modern facilities for preserving chemicals where the owners will get their desired services.

Regarding the announcement of mourning day, the Prime Minister said Sunday she will discuss the matter with the cabinet secretary to announce a mourning day in this regard.

Hasina said the government has taken all-out efforts for the treatment of the fire victims as the country now has the most modern medicare facilities for such victims. “We’ll do whatever is needed for their treatment.”

She said the government will implement the project to remove the chemical godowns from Old Dhaka to Keraniganj so that Old Dhaka could avoid such devastating fire incidents again.

The Prime Minister put emphasis on restructuring the roads and by-lanes of Old Dhaka  so that fire fighting vehicles could enter there during any fire incident.

“Let’s make it sure that the ponds and canals are not filled…these have to be preserved for future purpose,” she said.

Hasina came down heavily on a section of television journalists for their attitude that caused obstructions to firefighters in carrying out their duties during the fire incident.

“They (TV reporters) are asking questions one after another, I don’t know whether that was the perfect time for asking questions, how you (TV reporters) are expecting answers from them (firefighters), so many types of questions! Was that the time for asking questions?” she asked.

The Prime Minister requested the people who usually gather during such incidents not to put obstacles to the works of firefighters. “You could bring some water or sand while coming to the place of incident…that would be a little bit of help for all.”

She thanked all, including firefighters, doctors and other concerned, for acting promptly during the fire incident.

Arriving at the DMCH at 10:30 am, Hasina directly went to the ICU of the Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute to see for herself the conditions of the nine critically injured people now undergoing treatment there.

She also talked the family members of the injured and consoled them saying the government will do everything necessary for their proper treatment.