The government is likely to confiscate the site of Rana Plaza in Savar, ten months after the eight-storied building collapsed claiming lives of over a thousand garment workers.
Dhaka District Deputy Commissioner Shaikh Yusuf Harun said a committee, which has been leading the coordination works of Rana Plaza will soon implement the decision.
“Earlier, there was a plan to confiscate the site as Khas land. But the decision has remained pending due to the compensation issues of the victim’s families,” said Harun while talking to the Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.
“Now, it seems frustration of the victim’s families have come down as many of them received their compensation. We have already published advertisements in the newspaper regarding confiscation and we have not received any objection in this regard. Therefore, we will soon go forward with our decision,” he added.
Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, claimed 1,135 lives when it collapsed in April 24, 2013. Some 2,438 people survived, while hundreds still remain missing.
After the collapse, a mass rescue operation, led by the Bangladesh Army, formally concluded its activities on May 13, 2013, and the site was handed over to the district administration on the same day for maintenance.
However, locals have said the place was left unguarded as the government showed very little interest to protect the site. They also said three fire incidents also took place at the site after being handed over to the administration.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, locals complained that even though the authorities have created a boundary in the area using corrugated tin sheets and wires, street children and drug addicts had cut open a part of the boundary and frequently loot valuables from the site.
“Street children regularly take valuables from the wreck. There are clothes, iron rods and other valuables there,” said Fazal Bepari, a resident of the area.
He also said the site must be put under police guard and there should be a secondary search in the area since many of the Rana Plaza workers were still missing.
Hasem Ali, who lives near the site said: “Sometimes, commoners and duty policemen throw cigarettes butts inside the site, which can cause a serious fire.”
During a visit to the spot, it was found that the place was filled with pieces of fabrics, bobbin, rod and cement. No members from local police were seen guarding the area; rather the correspondent found some street children collecting iron rod from the debris.
“We often sell the iron rods found at the site,” said Sohel, a street child.
Rana Plaza worker Emdadul Haque, who claimed that street children have recovered skulls and bones from the site several times, said: “Due to the negligence of the authority, many of the valuables and evidences of the collapse are being lost.”
Sources at the local fire service office have also confirmed that fire had erupted at the site three times and admitted that the site had been often left without security.
“Street children and addicted people enter the site to collect things. Sometimes, they use fire to separate iron roads from the debris. The place is full of many combustible substances,” Station Officer of Savar Fire Station Anwar Hossain said.
He also added that the site is vulnerable to such risks and suggested that the entire site should be announced restricted.
Department of Disaster Management Director General Mohammad Abdul Wazed said the district administration was the sole authority to protect the site and they must be sincere about their responsibilities.
When asked, the Dhaka DC, however, said his department had ordered the local police to secure the area.
“We ordered the police to deploy forces to protect the site until further orders. If police violate this order, it is their negligence,” he said.