LAHORE - The city district government has failed to initiate legal action against 750 plazas in the provincial capital except issuing notices to their owners, TheNation has learnt.

No owner has been booked, though these plazas are constructed without emergency exits, raising serious threats in case of emergency, said the sources in LDA, adding that the people running their business in these plazas had been voicing concern for their lives after the twin factory fire tragedy that had claimed more than 350 lives.

The sources said these plazas were constructed in a violation of rules and regulations. Moreover, these plaza owners had hoodwinked the members of the High Design Committee by showing emergency exits in the maps,” they maintained.

“Despite the law, no implementation had been made. Neither penalty has been imposed nor notices have been served on influential owners and builders,” said the sources, adding authorities wake up to surveying plazas and buildings in the city after any untoward incident took place in the country.

Now the High Designed Committee, headed by the district coordination officer, has launched ‘tight monitoring’ and a special squad has been constituted to survey plazas so that an action could be initiated against builders or owners.

Citing issuance of notices to the persons concerned after fire incidents in the major trade points, including Shah Alam Market, Hall Road and Gulberg, an official said the administration had served notice after such mishaps in the past.

He, however, said that public life and property can be saved by only “raising awareness among contractors”. He admitted that most of the plazas were constructed without emergency exits.  The CDGL authorities have ordered inspectors to conduct a survey of the plazas and factories in residential areas so as to identify buildings without emergency exits.

No action has so far been initiated for shifting or closing of any factory functioning in the residential areas, though a survey had been completed in the past. According to sources, the inspectors identified 1,700 illegal factories in the residential areas and the report had been submitted to the Punjab chief secretary, but to no avail.

After the twin fire tragedy, the district administration issued notices to 750 plazas and hundreds of industrial units operating without adequate fire safety measures, but no legal action was taken.

An engineer of the Building Department said on condition of anonymity that to limit loss of life and property, the government must ensure fire safety measures at all industrial units including steel mills, flour mills, food processing units, building material industries, pharmaceutical companies, hardware and electric appliances manufacturing industries ,and large-sized warehouses.