Apathy to Rana Plaza victims continues

IT IS very unfortunate that victims of the April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza collapse are yet to get full compensation. As New Age reported on Wednesday, based on the fourth monitoring report of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a national think-tank, which was prepared by interviewing a selected number of victims and their family members over telephone and made public on Tuesday at a programme in the capital Dhaka, survivors of the collapse are still suffering from various physical and mental problems. Besides, a few of the injured workers were employed locally in off-farm jobs mostly at wages below what they used to earn previously. Overall, the living standard of the families of the dead and the injured in the worst-ever building collapse has gone down in the past two years.
When the collapse took place leaving more than 1,100 people dead and many more wounded, various quarters, including the government and leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, came up with a plethora of promises that, as it turns out, were high on rhetoric and low on substance. Meanwhile, the Transparency International, Bangladesh, in its report published on Tuesday, which has also been quoted in another New Age report the same day, has alleged that around Tk 108 crore out of Tk 127 contributed by different quarters to the prime minister’s relief and welfare fund for the Rana Plaza victims still remains unutilised, although the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement issued rejected the allegation and denied existence of any unutilised fund or undisbursed cheque. That apart, the government is yet to release any information on the operation cost of the donors’ trust fund for the victims, not to mention the list of the victims who received compensations, lending credence to the allegations of lengthy process and lack of transparency in distribution and fixing amounts of compensation.
While the government immediately needs to come out of its apathy to workers in general and apparel workers in particular to make a difference, BGMEA leaders need to walk the talk instead of making empty words on the workers’ rehabilitation, as iterated by its members present in the CPD programme as well. Any failure in this regard will not only be a double shock for the victims but also cause further damage to the export-oriented sector’s global image.

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