RAWALPINDI, Dec 26: The Tuesday fire in two warehouses in the city roused the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) from slumber, which sealed seven factories on Wednesday for violation of fire safety rules.
Though the presence of industrial unit within the limits of residential areas is illegal, the factories were operating right in the heart of city with impunity and that too without fire safety measures.
According to Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa, out of total 187 factories, operating in the residential areas of the garrison city, 150 have adopted fire safety measures.
“We have initiated action against the industrial units who have failed to install fire safety equipment in their premises,” he stated this while talking to Dawn.
Replying to a question, the administrator said: “Schools and commercial activities in the residential areas are also illegal”.
When asked why the administration has failed to take action against them, he said: “It is not the policy of the government, but if the provincial government ordered to take action against them we will make them to abide by the law”.
The Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA), Civil Defence, Rescue 1122, Labour Department participated in the operation against seven factories.
These factories are: Bilal Shopping Bag Factory, Wali Traders Nimko Factory, Tawakal Packages in Hazara Colony; Nazi Gas Stove Factory, Aslam Hosiery, Usman Hosiery in Mohanpura and Mushtaq Sweets in Dhoke Dalal.
The enforcement team also lodged complaints against the owners of the factories with City and Pirwadhai police stations.
They asked other factories to adopt fire safety measures otherwise be ready to face the music.
The CDGR carried out a survey in the city in November and found more than 190 illegal factories functioning in thickly populated areas which include Khyaban-i-Sir Syed, Bangash Colony, Dhoke Dalal, Bagh Sardaran, Mohanpura and Sadiqabad.
The small scale factories manufacture and prepare goods by using chemicals and other inflammable material but do not have the fire safety measures.
The survey report said that the storage facilities at these factories were vulnerable to fire incidents as most of them have either no fire fighting equipment at all or have defective equipment, besides there were no proper security arrangements.
According to building bylaws, commercial, industrial and public buildings must have essential fire safety measures.
The layout plan of the commercial buildings must have exit doors, fire hydrants, fire-isolated stairs, emergency lifts, the mechanical ventilation and sprinkler system, smoke alarms, the safety management system and the fire control centre.
Former Chief Instructor of Civil Defense Rawalpindi Talib Hussain said the regulations required the building owner to maintain all safety fittings, equipment and safety features as well as those items listed as essential safety measures in the developed countries.
He said that the newly built buildings, which had not adopted building bylaws, were located in Raja Bazaar, Commercial Market, Benazir Bhutto Road, Jamia Masjid Road, Banni Chowk, College Road aka China Market, Moti Bazaar, Sarafa Bazaar and adjoining bazaars.
He said that these buildings were located in narrow streets and could be dangerous if they did not adopt building bylaws in future.
He said that the owners whose multi-storey buildings located in narrow bazaars would be asked to erect fire-isolated stairs and install sprinkler system in their buildings to avoid Ghakhar plaza like incident in the future.