Local government officials are trying to identify storage sites for dangerous chemicals in residential areas and preparing a plan of action to relocate them in the wake of last week’s blaze near Delhi Gate, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Lahore Commissioner Imdadullah Bosal, at a meeting on Monday, directed the district administration to do a survey to establish the number of chemical godowns in residential areas in the city and to identify those storing dangerous chemicals in particular within 10 days.
A committee consisting of the district officer (environment), DO (industries) and DO (civil defence) has been tasked with doing the survey. It has surveyed the Circular Road area and found 198 godowns and shops storing various types of chemicals there.
The committee has also identified 25 dangerous chemicals which are not to be stored in residential areas.
DO (Environment) Younis Zahid said godowns containing inflammable chemicals should not be allowed in residential areas.
He said that chemical fires were usually a result of mishandling. Implementing strict safety procedures at godowns would greatly reduce fire incidents, he said.
DO (Industries) Muhammad Azhar said that they were initially identifying what types of chemicals were being stored and the dangerous ones.
Officials said that the city government would transfer the most dangerous godowns first.
They said that paint, textile, leather and shoe makers all used highly volatile substances.
They said that an earlier plan to first shift godowns which were in rented buildings had been altered.
After last week’s fire at Delhi Gate, which sent a large cloud of acrid smoke above the Walled City, DCO Naseem Sadiq said that a four-member committee had been set up to do the chemicals survey.
City government officials said that such a committee had not been set up.
At Monday’s meeting, the commissioner said that the presence of industrial units and chemical godowns in residential areas of Lahore was a social issue and an awareness campaign would be launched to get public support to move them out.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.