A company named Padma Trading has illegally been running an liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder depot next to a school in a residential area in Chattogram, violating several mandatory norms fixed by the Department of Explosives, posing threats of fatal accidents at any time.
The teachers, students and parents of the school, Frobel Academy, as well as residents near the depot, are worried as gas cylinders are stockpiled in the depot very close to the school's boundary wall.
For import, filling and transportation of LPG, licences are required from the Department of Explosives and these licences are obtained and renewed based on terms and conditions under LPG Rules-2004 of the Explosive Act, 1884.
As per the rules, no gas depot can be set up in a densely populated area. Secondly, LPG cylinders have to be stored in a depot made of concrete and which is risk-free. Thirdly, a gas depot must be equipped with fire extinguishing devices and obtain a licence from the Fire Service and Civil Defence.
However, Padma Trading has not complied with any of the rules as it has set up the depot in a residential area. Moreover, it is running the depot illegally in the open without permission from the Department of Explosive. There is no proper fire extinguishing facility too.
Explosives Inspector at the Department of Explosive in Chattogram Md Tofazzal Hossain said, "Padma Trading has a licence for an LPG depot but another location. We are not aware of this depot. If you want to move the depot to a new place, you must get a licence. We have not received any application from them for transferring a depot. We will look into the matter."
Locals said there used to be a concrete mixing plant at the site earlier. About two months ago, the plant was shut down and the gas cylinder depot was set up. They hoped the authorities concerned would take necessary actions to move the depot from here.
During a visit to the depot, LPG cylinders were found stockpiled in the open very close to the school boundary. Jahed, an official at the depot, said LPG cylinders of different brands are stored here and supplied to different places in the city.
The school is to the east of the depot. There are also 12 residential multi-story buildings to the north and east. However, there is no signboard on the depot.
Md Amjad Hossain, in-charge (finance and admin) of Frobel Academy, told The Business Standard that this new school, with about 300 students from KG I to Class VII, is at serious risk due to the gas cylinder depot. Parents are constantly telling the school authorities about their concerns. In the meantime, the school's authorities have repeatedly requested the depot owner to remove it.
Expressing concern about the safety of the children, Syed Tawfiq Saeed, whose son studies at the school, said if a gas cylinder explodes, there is a risk of a terrible accident.
Two weeks ago, Padma Trading Proprietor Mohin Uddin Sujan, said that the school authorities expressed their concern and he would move the depot in a few days.