Prioritizing human rights and safety does not have to come at the cost of development and progress
After the Chawkbazar fire, what we needed more than anything was a concerted effort from the government to ensure that something like this would never happen again.
In this regard, it is heartening to hear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina express the government’s dedication towards removing all inflammable material and chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka.
Not only that, she has also vowed to remove such materials from other residential areas, a step just as necessary towards ensuring the safety of the people.
Old Dhaka has become somewhat notorious for the number of fires which have broken out in the area, with the last two major fires -- in Nimtoli and Chawkbazar -- responsible for the loss of almost 200 lives.
This is the sort of commitment to citizen safety that is required from a government that is striving to push the nation towards development, which cannot be equated with economic progress alone, and a general concern for the safety of citizens.
What is also encouraging is that this will not sacrifice businesses in the process -- there will be specific areas provided, which will be dedicated to the safe storage and handling of such dangerous chemicals and other materials.
What this shows is that a win-win situation is possible: Prioritizing human rights and safety does not have to come at the cost of development and progress.
By putting her might behind the decision to remove hazardous materials from residential areas, the prime minister has assured us that the government will do its best to prevent hazards such as these in the future, while also keeping in mind the need for the kinds of solutions which benefit all stake-holders.