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Relocation of warehouses is a must

Published : Saturday, 9 March, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 403

Relocation of warehouses is a must

Relocation of warehouses is a must

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her government's firm stance on relocating the warehouses of inflammable materials from Old Dhaka and other residential areas in the capital. She has affirmed her commitment not to allow inflammable materials in Old Dhaka. Her government is looking for a separate place for them which will also save the businesses. She said this while she was addressing the oath-taking programme of the newly elected mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation.  The PM further said that the businessmen can keep their showrooms and sell their products there and asked the new DNCC mayor and city corporation councillors to perform their duties showing due respect for the people who kept trust in them. This is clear that no matter what happen, government will not allow any chemical warehouse in residential areas.

In the post-90s world of neo-liberal economic growth, profit maximisation and valorisation of immaterial qualities are driving the daily life in mega cities like Dhaka. Old Dhaka is related to the rest of the city through a series of exploitative relationships of profit and immaterial qualities. We fetishise its historical value, romantic narrow alleys, cheap products, and cultural worth during Sakrain or other religious-cultural festivities. At the same time, it is described as old, congested, and even uninhabitable because of gross violation of the city planning codes. This dualistic representation of Old Dhaka has robbed it of the value of its inhabitant's everyday lives.

When we look at the narrow alleys of Old Dhaka and the numerous shops, storages, and artisan-style factories of counterfeited products we see the symptoms of the more significant issue of "informality" in the city. The dangerous mixed-use of built structures happens because of the potential profit maximisation and an absence of safer and better alternatives. Unfortunately, most of the efforts to deal with Old Dhaka's planning problems have framed the structural code violations only through the frame of "illegality" and refuses to acknowledge the role of "informality". Safe alternatives for relocation do not take into account the world-making factors (e.g. proximity, kinship, history, sense of belonging, livelihood) that turns spaces like Chawkbazar into places of bustling economic zones (often informal). Henceforth, we see decades of failed negotiations with businesses for relocating polluting industries like the tannery or the chemical storages and shops from the locality. Therefore, in the case of warehouses relocation government has to be empathetic as well as firm in its decision. 

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