Bailey Road fire: Bring all responsible quarters to book

As many as 46 people were killed in a fire at a commercial building in the capital’s Bailey Road Thursday. Those who went there for dinner with families and friends, returned dead. Several others are groaning at the hospitals with burn injuries.

Stamford University professor Ahmed Kamruzzaman Mazumder, his wife and two daughters are among the survivors who were rescued by the fire fighters. They went there to celebrate his daughter’s 12th birthday. Although they somehow survived the fire by taking shelter on the roof, many couldn’t. They were burnt to death or asphyxiated by the smoke.

Health minister Samanta Lal Sen said none of those who are undergoing treatment at the hospitals are out of danger. In that case, the death toll from the incident may rise.

While visiting the spot, Fire Service and Civil Defence director general Brigadier General Main Uddin told newspersons that the building had no fire safety arrangements. The building authorities were warned thrice through letters. However, no steps were taken in response to the warnings.

Director of the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) project and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) urban planner Ashraful Islam said the building had the commercial approval from the first to the seventh only for offices. It had no approval to house restaurants.

It means the owner of the building didn’t even care about the laws. How could a six-storied building house so many restaurants without any fire extinguishing arrangements? Gas cylinders were used in the kitchen of each of these restaurants. How deadly could the consequence be from an accident caused by the highly dangerous gas cylinders, is evident from the fire at that building on Bailey road.

The pain of losing nearer one’s is beyond the comprehension of those who haven't lost. Neither condolences or sympathies can heal the pain of the bereaved.

The reason behind the Nimtali and Churihatta tragedy was endless ignorance and carelessness of the relevant authorities. It’s the same even in the case of the Bailey road fire. But we simply cannot keep putting people to death in incidents like this one after another mainly due to the negligence of the concerned authorities. We no longer have the chance to term such fire incidents ‘accidents’ due to some persons unwillingness to abide by the rules or negligence of any agency or company. It’s systematic killing.

If the building owner really didn’t take any action despite repeated warnings from the RAJUK, then that person might have to bear the responsibility for the casualties. AJUK has said that the building owner rented the building to the restaurants without any permission from the respective authorities. The question remains as to why the RAJUK didn’t take any action against the owner.

The people or the concerned authorities, whose negligence and irresponsibility lead to the deaths of so many people, must be brought to book. In the past, the persons responsible for the tragedies in Churihutta and Nimtali, got away despite so many deaths. An iteration of that is not acceptable at all this time.