LAHORE - The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) and the Environment Protection Department (EPD) have failed to accomplish any plan or policy for the factories and industrial units, functioning in residential vicinities, flouting the directions given by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, The Nation learnt on Sunday.

The district administration, in recent past, planned and decided thrice for taking action against such factories and industrial units but failed in executing the decisions due to certain reasons, despite the health hazards and lingering threat of any mishap.

It was planned by the administration that officials of CDGL, EPD and Labour Department would initially serve notices to all the industrial units, functioning in the city boundaries, and would issue warning before launching operation to repel those factories from the residential vicinities or forcing them to follow the industrial regulations, said the insiders.

Earlier, the CDGL authorities conducted a survey of such factories for compiling the details of those industrial units and detecting locations. Later on, the departments concerned started issuing warning notices to these units, but the process stopped merely after 100 notices. The crackdown on violators, announced by these authorities, was still pending, they added.

As per the data collected from CDGL, the officials concerned had surveyed and identified 7,750 industrial units, factories and workshops in residential localities.

The survey was launched by the CDGL after the tragic incident at a pharmaceutical factory near Kharak on Multan Road, occurred a few years ago. The report compiled by a CDGL committee said that nine towns actively participated in the campaign and officials identified the industrial units, factories being unlawfully run in the city areas. Samanabad Town identified 1,339 factories within its territorial jurisdiction; Ravi Town 1,284; Data Ganj Bakhsh Town 1,534; Iqbal Town 531; Gulberg Town 601; Nishtar Town 407; Shalimar Town 717; Wagha Town 1,033; and Aziz Bhatti Town identified 304 units.

“We will soon hold a meeting to discuss various issues related to shifting of these units outside the city or ensuring provision of certain facilities like safety and minimum wages to the workers there,” the DO Environment said following the mishap. He said that the CDGL had already ordered its labour, industries and other departments to regularly inspect the workplaces and take action against those violating the rules.

A Punjab government committee had recommended that all district coordination officers should conduct surveys of industrial units in their areas in the wake of the building collapse on in February 2012, in which dozens of workers were killed. The factory, which caved in after an apparent boiler explosion, was located in a residential area.

Officials from seven departments in nine teams, one for each town, began the survey. Each team consisted of representatives from the Industries, Building Control, Labour, Rescue 1122, Civil Defence and Environment Protection Departments and a tehsil municipal officer.

Giving details about the survey, District Officer (Industries) said that each team inspected about five industrial units in each of Lahore’s nine towns every day, with each team member having different responsibilities. The Labour Department official monitored labour measures; the Rescue 1122 and Civil Defence officials checked for hazardous materials; the EPD official assessed the factory’s impact on the surrounding areas.

The DO said that chemicals and paints factories were found as most dangerous, posing extreme fire hazards. Factories with boilers were also quite dangerous, he said, mentioning the chemicals, dyeing and textile industries. He added that the results of the survey report had already been compiled and sent to the Punjab government which would draw up a strategy for launching operation for the relocation of the industries or any other essential action.

The EPD estimates that there are nearly 10,000-14,000 industrial units located in areas designated as residential zones in the Lahore Master Plan 2021, whereas around 65,000 industrial units are found in residential areas across the whole province - Punjab. The Deputy Director (Information) of EPD disclosed that there were only some 800 to 900 units located in industrial zones. He said that the numbers of factories in residential areas were swelling rapidly. However, the government did not have funds enough to arrange shifting of all the industrial units in residential areas.