The Sindh High Court called for proposals from the Sindh government, non-government organisations and owners of the Baldia garment factory on Thursday for constitution of a commission to disburse compensation provided by a German firm.
KiK Textilien, a German company, has offered to pay $1 million to those who were injured and families of the 259 workers who were killed in the fire which broke out at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012.
Headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, the division bench was hearing petition filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, and other non-government organisations, who went to court for judicial investigation of the tragedy.
On Thursday, the court was informed that the petitioners and KiK, which was among the various importers Ali Enterprises was making garments for, had come to an agreement to distribute the compensation.
In the first phase, the families of those victims who had not been identified due to severity of burns and decomposition of bodies will be given the same amount as provided to others by the government or non-government sources so far.
KiK has agreed to contribute $1million for immediate relief, while the amount for long term compensation will be determined through mutual negotiation.
Out of the promised $1million, the lawyer said that German firm has already remitted some amount in favour of the petitioners but on the condition that the money is handed over for distribution to the independent commission that the court constitutes.
The judges observed that before passing any order, they would draw certain parameters for the disbursement for distribution of the money.
The judges directed the lawyers appearing for the petitioners, Sindh government and the factory owners to submit their proposals so that appropriate terms of reference could be prescribed for the proposed commission. The judges also ordered the authorities to submit a detailed report regarding payment of compensation to the surviving families.
The court directed that a copy of the report prepared by a judicial commission - which was constituted by Sindh government to probe the tragedy - should be filed before January 15.
Delays in DNA testing
Expressing their displeasure over delay in identification of bodies, the judges noted that despite their orders on November 8, 2012 to expedite the matter, DNA reports of only seven out of the 33 unidentified bodies had been received so far.
The court ordered Sindh IGP to send SP Saqib Sultan Al Mehmood and SP Faizullah Koreji, who were already members of the team monitoring the investigation, to Islamabad “instantly” to obtain the DNA reports so that the bodies may be handed over to their family members. The court ordered the exercise to be concluded within 15 days without fail and report to be submitted by the next date.
A philanthropist Shahzad Riaz pleaded to the court that he may be allowed to contribute Rs 5,720,000 for the welfare of the victims and their families.
Allowing his plea, the bench said that the amount will be distributed according to the order that will be passed on the next date of hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2013.