Casualties due to gas explosions and other fire-related incidents have increased at an alarming rate in Narayanganj.
According to Narayanganj Fire Service and Civil Defense sources, 1,287 fire incidents occurred in Narayanganj in the last two years.
Out of this, 694 incidents took place in 2021 and 593 in 2022. In 2021, the total amount of damage caused by fire is about Tk 17.49 crore.
Meanwhile, in 2022, the total amount of damage is about Tk 8.27 crore.
At least 83 people died in 324 explosions and fires due to gas leakage in the district in three years. This does not include the number of people who perished in such fire accidents while receiving medical attention.
It is as if the inhabitants of every house are living with ticking live bombs.
Experts believe that these accidents are happening due to various reasons including not repairing the old dilapidated supply line of Titas Gas and negligence of authorities, lack of awareness of customers, and not shutting down gas stoves properly.
Locals complain accidents are taking place due to the illegal gas lines that have been laid on the ground with low-quality steel pipes or plastic pipes.
According to Narayanganj Fire Service sources, 83 people died in 324 explosions in Narayanganj from January 2020 to March 2023. Over a hundred people were injured in these incidents.
In 2022, there were 104 explosions in the district. Of these, 69 are due to faulty Titas Gas lines. About 34 explosions were caused by Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders and air conditioners. In these explosions, 18 people died and 25 more received severe burns.
In 2021, 114 explosions occurred in the district. Of these, 96 were due to faulty Titas Gas lines, and 18 were due to LPG cylinders and AC explosions. In these explosions, 20 people died and 50 more were burnt.
In 2020, there were 106 explosions in Narayanganj. Of these, 71 were due to faulty Titas Gas lines and 11 were due to other reasons. In these explosions, 44 people died and 26 more were burnt.
However, apart from this, many small explosions and fires have occurred in the district. The fire service or police do not have accurate statistics of these incidents. They claim that the number of dead and burnt is more.
Five explosions occurred between January and March this year. Earlier this month, a fire broke out due to gas leakage on the sixth floor of a multi-storied building in Fatulla’s Masdair area of the city. A pregnant woman named Kulsum Begum and her son Khalid Hossain, 3, were burnt in the fire.
On February 26, five people, including a husband and wife, were burnt to death in an explosion in Narayanganj’s Datikapur area. The next day, on February 27, housewife Sukhi Akhter died while undergoing treatment at the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery. Her Husband Al Amin is still recovering.
The largest explosion in recorded history occurred in Narayanganj on September 4, 2020. On that day, 36 people died in an explosion in Talla Jame Mosque in Narayanganj during the Esha prayer. About eight others were injured.
Parul Bibi lost her two college-aged sons in this terrible accident.
“No other mother should have to suffer as I did. The government should investigate the issues and repair the faulty gas lines,” she said.
Ahidul Haque, a teacher in the Talla area, was killed in the same incident. His wife Rokeya Begum said, “After the terrible accident, the government had told us that the supply line of Titas Gas would be renovated, but it was not implemented. Gas is still being supplied through dilapidated old lines.”
As a result, explosions are happening one after the other in different parts of the district taking the lives of innocent.
Abdur Rahman, a resident of the Talla area, said, “The officials of Titas Gas do not do any work without bribery. Even if we complain to them repeatedly, no remedy is available.”
Fakhruddin, Deputy Assistant Director of Fire Service and Civil Defense in Narayanganj, said that explosions occur as methane gas congeals in closed rooms due to leakage in the pipes. “When the gas makes contact with a spark from lighting matches or switching on the lights, it explodes like a bomb.”
However, Mamunur Rashid, Deputy General Manager of Narayanganj district office of Titas Gas, denied that the explosion is taking place due to the leakage of the supply line.
“The supply line outside the house belongs to the Titas Gas authority. The lines that are taken inside the building belong to the customer. It is the customer’s responsibility to take care of it, not the company’s,” he said.
He added that the explosions are due to a lack of consumer awareness.
“It is the customer’s responsibility to check whether there is a gas line leakage inside the house. If there is any information about the leakage of the line, we arrange for it to be repaired quickly.”
In regard to the cause and solution of excessive fire in the district, the Deputy Assistant Director of Narayanganj Fire Service and Civil Defense Fakhar Uddin Ahmed said that it is an industrial district and there is a wide range of factories.
“If adequate precautions are not taken in such areas, fire-related incidents will continue to occur. Most of the fires are caused due to electrical disturbances and faulty gas lines,” he said, adding that the electrical connections should be inspected every three months by the concerned authority. Similarly, Titus gas line performance and condition need to be monitored.
On July 8, 2021, a terrible fire incident occurred in the Sejan juice factory of Hashem Food and Beverage, a subsidiary of Sajib Group, in the Karngop area of Rupganj upazila. A total of 52 people died due to the incident and 49 of them were burnt to death.
Meanwhile, most of the markets in Narayanganj are running without a fire-fighting system. This includes both Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) owned markets and private shopping malls. Already 15 such markets have been marked with fire hazard signboards.
According to district fire service sources, although notices have been given to the concerned market authorities repeatedly, there is no remedial action taken by the concerned.