SIALKOT

A Sports Goods Testing Lab project here is in the doldrums as work at the project has been suspended for the last 7 years due to the government’s apathy.

The building meant for the lab speaks volumes about the government apathy. It is surrounded by more than 10 to 12 feet bushes, reeds and dirty water pounds, and has become a safer place for dangerous insects and deadly snakes in and around the building. Snakes could be seen moving in and around the building.

The Punjab government had launched the work on the idea of having an internationally accredited testing Laboratory at Sialkot.

The idea was envisaged by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) for helping and facilitating the export industry by providing them with international standard testing facilities.

The need for a comprehensive and international accredited testing facility related to sportswear and sports goods in Sialkot was identified by the sports goods sector at a number of forums. It was identified by the SCCI Sub-Committee on Sportswear during the working on sports goods sector strategy by SMEDA in 2005.

The Commerce & Investment (C&I) Department, Government of Punjab had procured 8 kanals of land at Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Sialkot besides commencing its civil works during financial year 2008-09.

It was to be completed by 30th June 2009 at a cost of Rs250.535 million by the then Punjab government. Under the project, approved by the Punjab government, only the said building could be established there as no testing laboratory’s equipments had yet been provided. The building is still lying abandoned there for the last seven years.

The main object and purpose of establishing the laboratory was to provide fast and reliable internationally accredited testing services, technical documentation declaration of conformity and CE marking, and assistance in CE Mark certification, to provide assistance in improving product quality and production processes.

According to officials of the C&I Department, Sialkot’s industrial sectors namely Sports Goods Electric Appliances, Cutlery, Surgical Instruments, Leather and Gloves sectors had to be the prime beneficiaries of the project.

According to district administration, the works of the project was complete while the project still had been lying kept “on hold” for the last seven consecutive years.

The stakeholders were of the view that the government was trying to hand over the building to any other department and seemed to be interested in setting up the said laboratory there.

They said that the government was also convincing Punjab Vocational Training Center to take over the building, lying abandoned there for the last seven consecutive years.

Meanwhile, the Sambrial administration has formally requested the management of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) to hand over the building to it so as to establish Divisional Public School (DPS).

When contacted, Assistant Commissioner Rani Hafsa said “Yes, we have requested to the SCCI management to hand over the building to the Sambrial administration.” She said that the administration was still waiting for a go ahead and a positive response from SCCI in this regard.

SCCI Departmental Committee on EPZ Chairman Dr Aslam Dar has expressed grave concern over the nasty situation. He urged the government to take the project seriously and ensure its early completion. He said that the government had revised the PC-1 of the project to Rs450 million from its first approved PC-1 of Rs265.602 million.

He said that revised PC-1 was waiting for its final approval at Planning and Development since long.

He said that the building was completed several years ago but neither staff was recruited nor machinery purchased.

He said early establishment of Sports Goods Test Laboratory at Sialkot was the direly need by the export industry of Sialkot and now the need had increased for 20 times. He said that it should be completed and the government should make some effective, positive and all out sincere efforts to make it functional.