LAHORE: Those responsible for the Sundar factory collapse will not escape punishment, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Wednesday.
He was chairing a meeting after visiting the site of the collapsed factory.
“Those who have fled the country will be brought back through Interpol. The regulatory institutions concerned are also guilty of criminal negligence. The Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC), the Sundar Industrial Estate, the Industrial Department and the Labour Department paid no attention to illegal construction in the factory. Also, no attempt was made to control child labour,” he said. The chief minister said that the tragedy could have been prevented if regulations had been implemented. He said that a committee should be set up to fix responsibility in the incident.
International Day against Child Labour: ‘Educate working children for a better Pakistan’
He directed the officials to complete a survey of all industrial estates within a month. “The Labour and Industries Departments should conduct a comprehensive survey of factories located in industrial estates and submit a report. The industries minister must ensure that child labour is eliminated from factories and brick kilns within a month,” the chief minister said.
“The Sundar Industrial Estate board of directors and the PIEDMC have shown negligence with regard to monitoring of industrial units. Their supervision system is poor,” he said.
He said that the Industries and Labour Departments had failed to perform their duties. “The mechanism to regulate industrial units is not visible and certificates were issued recklessly. Quality control by-laws were openly violated. The Sundar Industrial Estate, which is an autonomous body, does not seem to have an effective monitoring system. It does not even have the ability to check industrial units,” he said. He said that factory owners would provide Rs2 million each to the families of deceased labourers. “Rs1 million each will be given to those who have been disabled. Rs0.5 million each will be given to the injured labourers,” he said.
Earlier, the industries secretary, the convener of the inquiry committee investigating the incident, presented its initial findings. He said that industrial building regulations were not implemented in the construction of the factory. “Sub-standard materials were used. Moreover, the building control division of Sundar Industrial Estate never carried out an inspection of the factory,” he said.
Factory collapse: Victims receive compensation
The government has issued compensation to Sundar factory collapse victims through the Punjab Workers’ Welfare Fund (PWWF) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
Thirteen workers who did not have computerised national identity cards were paid compensation through the PDMA. District Labour Officer Syed Hasnat Javed said that initially the Labour Department had processed the compensation cases. “We realised that payments cannot be made to victims below the age of 18 from the PWWF. So, as a special case, the government decided to release the funds through the PDMA,” he said. Javed rejected reports that there were child labourers.
Removing the child from child labour for the last 20 years
“Under the Punjab Factories Rules, 1978, they were legally allowed to work. Under law, an adolescent is a person who has completed 15 years, but not 17 years,” he said. The PDMA director said the authority had provided Rs50,000 per person in case of minor injuries and Rs300,000 to people who had life altering injuries. “Three of the workers were disabled. One of them was a man whose legs had been amputated to save his life,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2015.