Sindh government orders judicial probe into factory fire
By: Imtiaz Ali
Karachi: The Sindh government on Wednesday ordered a judicial inquiry, led by a former high court judge, to probe the devastating factory fire in the city that claimed more than 289 lives.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has appointed Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi to investigate the blaze. The spokesperson for the Chief Minister’s House said the judge had been asked to assess the possible causes of the fire, the steps that could have been taken to save the lives and the alleged negligence on the part of the factory owner. The inquiry is likely to be completed within seven days.
The provincial chief executive has also announced Rs300,000 in compensation for the heirs of each person killed in the fire and Rs50,000 for every seriously injured one.
“The chief minister has expressed deep sorrow and grief over the tragic incident,” the spokesperson said. Shah has directed the provincial police chief to conduct an inquiry into the incident and also ordered the health department to treat the injured survivors of the fire.
Separately, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has directed the IGP to investigate the incident and place the name of the factory’s owner in the exit control list.
Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan visited the site and told the media that stern action would be taken against those responsible for the tragedy. He was accompanied by Federal Ports Minister Babar Khan Ghauri, provincial ministers Rauf Siddiqi, Dr Sagheer Ahmed, Pir Mazharul Haq and Sharjeel Memon, IGP Fayyaz Leghari, Karachi Commissioner Roshan Sheikh and Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed. The governor said Rs0.5 million in compensation had been announced for the victims.
He also urged philanthropists to come forward and help the affected families.
Industries Minister Rauf Siddiqui told the media that an investigation was under way against the factory owner. “An inquiry has also been ordered to determine how the fire erupted and why there were no proper emergency exits at the factory so that the workers could escape.”
Provincial Labour Minister Amir Nawab, who has recently tendered his resignation over the local government ordinance issue, told The News that he had earlier directed the labour secretary and director to inspect the factory.
He claimed that the director had visited the factory and informed him that the building was about to collapse. “However, the official was unable to stay there for a long as the workers there became agitated because of his presence.” Nawab said he had also planned to visit the site.
Nawab, who is an Awami National Party leader, demanded an inquiry into the incident. “The culprits should be taken to task so that such a tragedy can be prevented in the future.”
Nawab said initial investigation suggested that the workers had died because they were unable to escape from the building as its doors were closed. “Whenever a factory is registered, all laws and rules are followed.”
In a statement, PPP Karachi division leaders blamed the violations of labour laws and the labour department’s negligence for the tragedy.