LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), in a press release on Wednesday, has expressed alarm at the shoddy state of affairs that has led to the tragic death of nearly two dozen people in Lahore when a boiler explosion reportedly brought down a three-storey ‘pharmaceutical laboratory’.
In its statement, the Commission said, “The disaster has exposed the non-existence of any regulatory system, which is horrific. We now learn that the factory was operating without a licence and in a residential area and that most of the workers were women and children employed in exploitative conditions.”
The press release said that the establishment had not been assessed for environmental impact and the premises had not been inspected because the provincial government had abolished labour inspectors’ visits to factories since 2002. The banning of labour inspection, the release said, was a travesty that amounted to the government’s acquiescence into industrialists’ greedy operations.
The release further said, “If such appalling exploitation and illegalities go on unnoticed and unchecked in the country’s second largest city, it should not be too difficult for anyone to imagine how bad things must be in places that are not quite so close to the seat of government or are not as well covered by the media.”
They government, the press release added, must preempt such tragedies rather than react with posthumous compensation packages and rhetoric. It said, “For the sake of countless others who continue to work in similar and worse conditions, it is hoped and demanded that the government shows some imagination and spine to put a stop to the policies that make a mockery of people’s rights and precipitate such disasters.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012.
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