এর মধ্যে ১০টি কনটেইনার ডিপোর ভেতরে নিজস্ব ডিজেল পাম্প থাকার তথ্য প্রথম আলোর অনুসন্ধানে বেরিয়ে এসেছে। বিপজ্জনক পণ্য ব্যবস্থাপনার স্থাপনায় ডিজেল পাম্প থাকা অত্যন্ত ঝুঁকিপূর্ণ।

Some 10 container depots were found accommodating diesel pumps on their premises. Having diesel pumps inside a hazardous commodity management facility is highly dangerous.

Besides, almost all the depots were found with inadequate fire safety measures. Some of them are now awaiting renewal of their licenses due to non-compliance with the government terms and conditions. Most of them lack proper arrangements for handling hazardous products.

Comprising officials of Bangladesh Customs, Chittagong Port Authority, Fire Service and Civil Defence, investigation committees were formed to look into the BM Container Depot fire, and the depot officials have confirmed these issues to Prothom Alo.

As per rules, setting up a diesel pump inside a container depot requires a no-objection certificate (NOC) from Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC).

According to the BPC sources, there are diesel pumps inside 10 depots – BM Container Depot, Golden Container Limited, Messrs Esack Brothers Limited, Portlink Logistics Centre Limited, SAPL, Ocean Container Limited, KDS Logistics Limited, Incontrade Limited, Ispahani Summit Alliance Terminal Limited, and Nemsan Container Depot.

But the depot officials are not aware of having NOC from the BPC, but they collected licenses from the department of explosives before setting up the pumps inside the depots.

The BM Container Depot caught fire on 4 June, leaving 49 people dead and more than two hundred injured. A part of the depot was turned to rubble as at least 100 chemical-filled containers were burned.

Nine days after the deadly fire, another container depot in Patenga -- Vertex Off-Dock Logistic Services – caught fire on 13 June, but the firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control immediately.

Nurul Kaium Khan, president of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA), told Prothom Alo that they are operating the depots complying with the terms and conditions. Some lacks still remain there and the authorities are trying to overcome those. Many of the depots are now installing fire hydrants.

Regarding the diesel pumps, he said the pumps were set up only after getting clearance from the department of explosives. If new regulations are formulated now, the depots would follow these too. The issue of license renewal is a part of gradual process.

Lack of fire hydrant

Some 13 container depots have no fire hydrant while the remaining ones have started installing the fire-extinguishing facility after the BM Container Depot fire.

The depots with no fire hydrant are – BM Container Depot, Esack Brothers Limited, SAPL, Ocean Container Limited, Messrs CCTCL, Eastern Logistics Limited, QNS Container Limited, Haji Saber Ahmed Timber Company, Shafi Motors Limited, Portlink Logistics Centre Limited and Nemsan Container Depot Limited.

The firefighters struggled to bring the fire under control at Sitakunda as there was no fire hydrant at the BM Container Depot.

Md Faruk Hossain Shikder, assistant director of Chattogram Fire Service and Civil Defence, told Prothom Alo that they are inspecting the depots and identifying the deficiencies. Later, they would provide necessary instructions to the depot authorities.

Question on diesel pumps

A container depot receives the license to operate once it complies with different terms and conditions of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the shipping ministry. But the two entities did not provide any clear instructions on installation of diesel pumps inside the depots. On the other hand, the depots did not report to and seek permission from the license issuing authority before installing the diesel pumps.

Recently, two committees, formed to investigate the BM Container Depot fire, came to know about the diesel pumps for the first time. There was a pump a bit away from the explosion spot at the BM Container Depot. A total of 10 depots set up oil dispenser machines and storage tanks and are operating diesel pumps for themselves.

The depot officials said they need a huge amount of fuel to operate the machinery. This is why the pumps were set up inside the depots after taking licences from the department of explosives. No government agencies objected to the practice till the date.

According to the BPC, no depots have submitted applications for installing diesel pumps. The corporation, in a letter on 22 June, requested the department of explosives to refrain from issuing licenses of diesel pumps without its approval.

BPC chairman ABM Azad told Prothom Alo that installing a pump for private use also requires permission from the petroleum corporation. The matter is being investigated and work on formulating new policies is also underway.

Eight depots run without renewing license

The licenses of Eastern Logistics Limited, SAPL (East) and SAPL (West) Depots were not renewed due to non-submission of clearance from the Department of Environment.

The licenses of Messrs K&T Logistics and Portlink Logistics Centre Limited (Unit-2) were not renewed due to lack of NOC from the Chittagong Port Authority.

Besides, the licenses of Messrs CCTCL-2, Anchorage Depot Ltd, and Messrs Esack Brothers Ltd were not renewed yet due to some other complications.

Nuruddin Milon, deputy commissioner of Chattogram Custom House, told Prothom Alo that the licenses were not renewed as the depots did not meet the conditions. As per rules, the licenses will be renewed only after submission of NOCs. In case of failure to meet the conditions, action will be taken against these depots as per the policy.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau and the NBR, 20 container depots in Chattogram have managed the export items worth $31 billion, out of the total exports of $38 billion in the previous fiscal.

Yasir Arafat Khan, associate professor of Department of Chemical Engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), said accommodating a diesel pump inside the depot is risky.

It is necessary to ensure a conducive environment in the depots in accordance with international standards and local law, for the sake of export trade, Khan added.

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