Public safety: 71 highly dangerous factories set to get ‘tame’ notices

The units were categorised as ‘extremely dangerous’ in a 2012 survey and were to be shifted out of city. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

The units were categorised as ‘extremely dangerous’ in a 2012 survey and were to be shifted out of city. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

LAHORE: The 71 industrial units that were declared ‘extremely dangerous’ during a survey seven months ago are still operating, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The provincial government had then said that it would relocate these units out of the city. No time frame had been given. Since October 2012, however, no real action has been taken regarding the factories.

The only headway made after months of inactivity is a notice drafted by the Office of the Environment District Officer, which the office says has been served to some of the factories and will “soon” be delivered to the remaining ones.

The Industries Department had ordered a survey of factories around the province after Orient Labs, a pharmaceutical factory located in Kharak, collapsed in March 2012, killing 26 workers. The district office of Industries (District Officer for Enterprise and Investment Promotion), Civil Defence and the district office of Environment conducted the survey, which identified 7,750 factories operating in residential areas of the city in September 2012. Of these, 71 were categorised as ‘extremely dangerous’ – units that were putting at risk the lives of not only hundreds of workers but also residents of nearby houses.

According to the survey, 52 industrial units (chemical, engineering, bakery, garments and textile) were operating in Samanabad Town, six in Wagha Town, five in Iqbal Town, four in Nishtar Town, three in Shalimar Town and one in Gulberg Town.

The notices were to be served on Friday. However, many were not sent because most of the staff was busy with the campaigns against dengue and polluting vehicles, according to District Officer (Environment) Younis Zahid.

Zahid told The Express Tribune that another problem was that the staff did not have the complete addresses of some of the factories that are to be served. He said that the office had asked the towns concerned for help. Zahid said that these notices would “soon” be served to the factories.

The notice, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, however, only points out the obvious hazard violations without specifying what needs to be done in order to redress the complaints. It says that the factory has been illegally established in a residential area, that health and environmental safety measures are “extremely poor and unsatisfactory”, that the work place is too small to accommodate mandatory open spaces or set backs and that the operations are causing noise, vibration, thrill, smoke, offensive odour, dust and hot air gasses. It also states that the factories are discharging waste water without treatment and that loading and unloading in residential areas is causing traffic problems.

The letter warns owners of action if they fail to redress the violations in seven days.

When what the city district government would do if the factories failed to relocate, as was recommended earlier, Zahid said that the DCO would decide the fate of the offending factories.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2013.

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