KARACHI: Forensic experts, electrical inspectors and fire officials are expected to submit their findings for the fire at the Baldia garment factory today (Tuesday).
A judicial commission, headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi, directed the officers on Monday to appear on September 18 along with their reports into the possible causes of the fire that killed 258 people. On September 12, the Sindh government had formed the commission to investigate the causes of the blaze at Ali Enterprises, the kind of defence system inside the factory and the extent of negligence on the part of the owners. On Monday, the director of the Sindh labour department, Danish Saeed, the commissioner of the Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI), the secretary of the Sindh Workers Welfare Board, Muzaffar Bhutto, and officers of the Sindh Building Control Authority recorded their statements before the commission.
The labour Inspectors has stopped inspection raids at factories because some years ago an Inspector who raided a factory was beaten by its management, stated Ejaz Baloch, the labour director.
The Sindh Industrial Trading Estates (SITE) Association later complained about such inspections to the Sindh chief minister, who issued a notification directing all inspectors to obtain authority letters before going on raids to any factory, he added. The opinion of forensic experts and a physical inspection of the site hold key importance, said Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi while briefing journalists.
He said that according to the labour officials, the registration of any new factory with the provincial labour department was not mandatory, but there were some 15 different laws under which the department should be informed about the establishment of any factory beforehand.
The garment factory, Ali Enterprises, had not been registered with the labour department for the past 20 years. The officers have been directed to place on record their reports, including material regarding the registration of Ali Enterprises. The chief minister had not banned surprise inspections and the inspectors were required to obtain authority letters from the department concerned before carrying out such raids, Alvi said.
To a query on compensation, the former judge said that the heirs of the victims would get adequate financial assistance as the factory owner, Sindh chief minister and some other departments have also announced financial help.
The commission is expected to complete its investigation within the set frame of 10 to 12 days, Alvi said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.