The government’s factory inspection department has been negligent in monitoring safety measures, found a government probe body formed after the devastating Hashem Food and Beverage factory fire in Narayanganj.
The probe also blamed the factory owner.
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After the incident, three government bodies — Narayanganj district administration, Fire Service and Civil Defence authority, and the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments — formed three probe bodies.
The district administration’s probe body submitted its 44-page report to the deputy commissioner (DC) on August 5 after almost a month-long probe. Yesterday, Narayanganj DC Mostain Billah shared the findings with The Daily Star.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments is responsible for monitoring safety measures in factories. The probe report has found that the department lacked sound monitoring in this case, he said.
The fire originated from an electric short-circuit on the ground flood. As there were huge flammable substances stored, the fire spread fast, the DC added quoting the probe report.
The owner did not have approval from the upazila administration and the Department of Environment (DoE) for setting up the factory, the probe found.
The owner did not comply with the government’s directives to ensure safety at the factory. All these factors contributed to the fire, he said.
Contacted yesterday, probe body member and Deputy Inspector General Soumen Barua of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments in Narayanganj said, “The owner could not show any documents of approval from the Department of Environment (DoE) or local upazila administration for setting up the factory.”
Asked about negligence on the part of his department, he said the DC would talk about it and hung up the phone.
The probe body placed a 20-point recommendation.
The recommendations include increasing manpower in the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments to strengthen monitoring of safety measures in factories, keeping sufficient fire-extinguishers in factories, keeping a team of firefighters in each factory, and training the workers to fight fire in emergencies.
It recommended paying Tk 2 lakhs to families of each deceased workers and Tk 2.5 lakhs to each of the injured workers as compensation.
The factory, located in Kornogop area of Rupganj, caught fire on July 8, claiming at least 51 lives.
The fire accident caused huge outrage among workers and common people. Two days after the accident, a police officer on July 10 filed a case with Rupganj Police Station, alleging negligence against eight persons, including factory owner Abul Hashem.
All eight were arrested hours after the case was filed.
Of them, five persons, including Hashem, later got bail.