As the second anniversary of one of the country’s biggest industrial disasters, the Baldia factory inferno, approaches the court wants to know what the authorities have done to assist the legal heirs of the victims and the survivors. The incident had claimed the lives of 259 labourers in a deadly factory inferno in Karachi in 2012.
On Tuesday, the Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to the federal and provincial authorities to explain how much of the monetary compensation pledged by the authorities had been provided and whether the charred bodies had been identified or not.
Headed by SHC Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, the bench was hearing two miscellaneous applications pleading to question the authorities regarding the payment of monetary compensation.
A deadly fire at the Ali Enterprises had killed 259 workers, including women and youngsters, who were trapped inside the locked premises on September 11, 2012.
The factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, have been named in FIR 343 of 2012, registered at the SITE-B police station under Sections 435, 436, 337, 322, 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Later, the court had ordered the owners’ release after the police investigator excluded murder charges from the case.
Days before the families are set to mark the second anniversary, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), has filed two applications in court.
Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, a representative of the labour rights group, requested the court to direct the federal government and the provincial labour secretary to submit proof that Rs400,000 had been given to the family of each victim as announced by the Prime Minister.
He said that the authorities should also be asked to explain why this amount had not been provided to the families of 45 victims.
Shah said that the premier had also announced a Rs500,000 death grant from the Workers Welfare Fund for each victim’s family. He pleaded the court to ask the respondents whether the same had been paid.
Apart from this, the applicant pleaded the court to call proof regarding the payment of Rs300,000 pledged by the Sindh chief minister and explain why such amount had not been given to the legal heirs of 55 victims.
In his plea, Shah requested the court to call a complete list of families of deceased persons to whom pension was being provided by the Employees Old-age Benefit Institute and to explain why certain families had been left out of the pension.
Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah also filed another application pleading the court to direct the provincial chief secretary to submit a detailed report regarding the bodies, which were buried but their DNA samples were sent to Islamabad to determine their identity.
Taking up the matter, CJ Maqbool Baqar issued notices to the federal and provincial authorities to submit their respective reports by September 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2014.