The Punjab government has decided to shift all hazardous industries located in residential areas of the city to the Sundar Industrial Estate in the wake of the factory collapse here last month in which dozens of people were killed, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The government has also decided to establish 500-acre industrial parks in each district and move industries located in residential areas to these parks within the next five years, an official said on the condition of anonymity.
The industries would be relocated with the cooperation of chambers of commerce and industry and the process would be initiated in six months, he said. The Industries, Commerce and Investment Department has sent a summary to start the process of relocation to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for final approval, he added.
The Punjab government set up a committee headed by the industries secretary after a pharmaceutical company’s factory collapsed apparently due to a boiler explosion in the first week of February and killed 26 workers. The committee was tasked with drawing up a plan of action for the shifting of dangerous industries from residential areas.
The committee learned that there were 2,190 factories in residential areas of the city, and 260 of these had boilers. Of these, 120 factories were operating boilers registered with the Directorate of Industries, while the rest were not registered.
Chemical, medicine and paints were the most dangerous industries. The Inspectorate of Boilers served notices to the factories operating unregistered boilers.
Some 140 factories were identified as particularly hazardous and requiring “immediate shifting” out of the city, said the official. The committee asked the Punjab Industrial Estate Management Company to provide 50 acres at the Sundar Industrial Estate to accommodate these factories.
The committee recommended that the government establish industrial parks in all districts in the next five years.
In the first phase, parks would be established far from residential areas in the five districts. It said plots in existing industrial estates which had been allotted but not colonised in violation of the terms and conditions of the allotment could be cancelled and used to relocate factories. The committee recommended that all district coordination officers be directed to do a survey of hazardous industries in their districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.