N’ganj mosque blast: Integrated initiative needed
Recently a heartbreaking incident took place in Tolla of Narayanganj. A gas explosion at a local mosque has killed at least 25 worshipers and more may be added to the death toll as many victims are in critical condition.
It was immediately thought that the explosion was caused by an AC explosion inside the mosque. However, according to locals, the main cause of the accident was the leakage of the Titas gas transmission pipe. They said that authorities have not taken any action despite complaints to repair the leak for about a month.
Some, on the other hand, claim that the accident was triggered by the explosion of an electrical transformer next to the mosque. We will learn the main cause after the final report of the inquiry committee.
Such tragic scenes on the newspapers are not new to us. News of road accidents, fires, gas explosions, chemical explosions, electrical short circuits and drowning have become commonplace in our daily lives. We have also memorized the scenes after each incident.
The hasty formation of the inquiry committees, the blame game of various government agencies and the sparkle of those responsible have not stopped in this incident.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company, Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) and various agencies including the police have already formed separate investigation committees.
Titas Gas Authority claims that building any house on gas transmission pipes is not allowed. The mosque building has been illegally expanded on gas pipes. Again, they also denied negligence, saying they had not received any complaints of line leakage.
On the other hand, DPDC explained that the cause of the explosion of 6 ACs at a time was that the electrical transmission line was of low power. This supply line did not yet have the capacity to run 6 ACs simultaneously.
In other words, both the organizations are blaming the lack of proper planning for the construction of mosques and the use of AC. However, even if these installations are built unplanned, the responsibility of monitoring rests with the concerned agencies.
Various government agencies were formed for disconnecting illegal electrical connections or obstructing the construction of illegal buildings on gas lines etc. They cannot avoid this responsibility of failure in any way.
It is necessary to identify these officials and employees who are neglecting their government duties as soon as possible. If the allegations of corruption against them are found to be true, exemplary punishment should be provided subject to investigation.
The mosque committee will also have to be held accountable if the allegation of illegal building on the original gas pipeline is found to be true. They cannot avoid the responsibility of this tragic death. The mosque management committee has primarily the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the worshipers.
At present, various religious and social establishments are being built all over the country. Most of these installations are being developed in risky environments.
Various religious and social organizations, including mosques, temples, community centers, and clubs are being set up on the gas transmission line, in the vicinity of high-risk electrical wires or on the river banks. These installations are not keeping the minimum security of the people.
Various unplanned electrical appliances are being used in all these social and religious establishments. Indifference is seen in the proper maintenance of these equipments. Illegal gas and electricity connections are being used in certain cases. As a result, accidents are happening constantly.
The concerned authorities should be aware of these accidents. Appropriate permission of certain government department has to be taken before constructing any installation. Detailed design of building construction needs to be approved by expert engineers.
Expert advice should be taken in case of addition of heavy electrical equipment. There have to use quality equipment by determining the capacity of the power supply line. Regular maintenance of electrical equipment must be arranged.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd is in charge of supplying gas to Dhaka Division. Experts estimate that 70% of Titus' 12,253 km of pipelines are at risk. Most of the gas supply lines are 20 to 40 years old. Many lines are also being damaged due to road digging. Unfortunately, we have occasionally heard of initiatives to be maintained and renew them. And, we have not seen any collective efforts.
There is information about illegal 300 km gas distribution lines in Dhaka city. Thousands of customers are taking illegal connections from these lines. Gas is being transported using substandard materials without considering safety risks. As a result, a death trap has been created.
There have been a lot of writings in the past about illegal gas connections in newspapers. However, no action has been taken. Political and economic influence is known to be the main reason. The local influentials and Titas officials are alleged to unethical financial dealings. Such indifference is by no means desirable in this case.
The culprits involved in this incident should be identified and exemplary punishment should be provided. In order to prevent such accidents in the future, the government should take concerted action. We do not want to see any more tragic incident like this in future.
The writer is a student, department of Law, Rajshahi University