Say hello to your neighbourhood illegal factory


Despite repeated incidents of fire and deaths, there are 425 illegal factories still functioning in the residential areas of Lahore, according to a recent report by local government officials, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Illegal factories of recycling of plastic, leather-refining and scrap-trade were operating across the city and lack of proper fire safety equipment was causing a serious risk to the workers of these factories. Authorities said that if an immediate action was not taken to curb these activities, chances of untoward accidents happening would remain high. They said that small fires regularly broke out in these factories and the presence of boilers and other high pressure equipment in these conditions was a cause of alarm.
While business activities are illegal in residential areas and Town Municipal Administration (TMA) officers are bound to ensure a check on such activities, the reality very different.
According to a survey, there are 83 factories in Iqbal Town, 99 factories in Gulberg Town, 52 factories in Nishter Town, 32 factories in Data Gunj Baksh Town, 26 factories in Wahga Town, 23 factories in Samanabad Town, 21 factories in Shalimar Town, 45 in Ravi Town and 16 factories in Aziz Bhatti Town operating illegally. District Officer for Environment Muhammad Younas said, “We have found 425 factories to be extremely dangerous and vulnerable to fire. We have sent them the show cause notices under the section 146-D1 of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance.”
He said these factories had been operating in residential areas without the required health and safety permits.
He added that these factories have been allowed a three-day time to appear before a tribunal. Failure to do so would result in the properties getting sealed and a fine up to Rs 5 million.
Muhammad Riaz, a resident of Shalimar Town said that he was concerned about the health effects of these factories on the residents and said that several residents had had a cough infection because of the smoke from the factories.
A resident of Iqbal Town said, “The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) is perhaps waiting for a Karachi-like incident to take place and then start taking action against illegal factories operating in the residential areas and violating all rules and regulations.”
Habib-ur-Rehman a resident of Gulberg said that such business activities had been a serious problem for the residents for quite some time. He said that noxious fumes and noise pollution had made their lives miserable.