Court summons inquiry report into 4 gas leak deaths

Ppi April 23, 2010

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has summoned a report on a gas leak that killed four workers of an effluent treatment plant in Korangi in 2009.

The families of three of the four men who died have instituted lawsuits worth Rs16 million against the Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) Environment Society, environmental management project for Korangi Tanneries, NEC-Consultants Pvt Ltd.,

Gulzar Feroze, the chairman of the PTA (SZ), the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency’s director general and the secretaries of the Sindh Ministry of Environment & Alternate Energy and Ministry of Labour. Their lawyer Nasir Maqsood submitted on Friday that the four workers died after inhaling the poisonous gas in the Combined Effluent Treatment Plant on March 30, 2009. According to newspaper reports, the environment minister had ordered the SEPA DG to investigate the cause of the accident.

But neither was anyone named responsible nor was any inquiry report made public even though it has been a year since the tragedy. Maqsood alleged that SEPA and the ministry were withholding the report to protect those who were guilty. The families have not even been informed about the inquiry report even though they have a right to know its outcome. Their lawyer said that they have repeatedly asked for an explanation but none has been so far forthcoming and no explanations have been provided for the delay. The families are claiming more than Rs16 million in damages in the three lawsuits under the Fatal Accidents Act 1855.

Their lawyer explained that the plaintiff had filed the suit solely on the basis of media information which was conveniently available. He had extensive annexed press clippings to support the case. The families claimed that there was alleged negligence and default on part of the defendants who had failed to provide the labourers a safe place of work. They had fallen short of the standards of care required to be observed in such a highly hazardous operation. The bench fixed May 3 as the date for the next hearing.


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