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Garments, Fire, Politics and Compensation December 7, 2012

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Ashulia 4'About 111 workers were burnt to death in a garment factory in Ashulia, 30 km from capital Dhaka , where most of the victims are young girls, many of whom are mothers of children. The news also spread like fire and telecasted in the media of home and abroad. The scene was unthinkable, unbearable to see and beyond description. The immediate reaction of the people was of awe and their hearts filled with sadness.
It was heard that the fire broke out from electric short circuit in the ground floor where piles of cotton were in stock . The fire alarms were ranged but it was at the same time announced that it was a false alarm. The gates were kept closed . The fire and fumes spread along the stairs and spread to the other floors. There was no way for the workers to escape from the disaster. Some of them managed to break the windows and jumped to the ground and to the adjacent roofs and many of them survived but many died and injured.
There was none found to take the responsibility. The owner was nowhere to find, no executive to respond to the need of the hour. The burnt bodies were lined up in the corridor of a school, relatives tried to identify their dear ones. About 55 were remain unrecognized. Their DNA samples were preserved and buried by numbers in a common ground for future identification. The injured were taken to different hospitals. But they found little support from the authority or government initially.
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The government, the business leaders and citizen groups all felt concern for the situation. PM announced that it is an act of conspirators but citizen groups preferred to wait to the end of inquiry.

Business leaders discussed ways to limit the future damage and coordinate compensations for the workers but they found no fault on the part of the owner.For the survived workers it was hard to accept the fate of their co-workers. They engaged themselves in daily agitations in the industry area. Workers from other industries also joined them to show their sympathy.

At one time 3 executives for Tajreen Garment were arrested but the owner remain free.
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After 6 days of fire, PM handed over cheque of Tk. 6 lac for each dead workers. But those who missed their relatives there were no soothing words for them.
The money was contributed by business associations, financial institutions and the government.
Tazreen Garment was declared closed but other garment owners took initiative to accommodate the left out workers of Tazreen.

But if such disaster cannot be prevented in future and if the plight of the workers cannot be changed, the lesson learnt from the incident will not be completed.

An ordinary citizen