KARACHI: A major fire in a chemical plant on Saturday exposed the performance of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), as the industrial facility was located on a residential property.
According to a report the chemical factory was operating on a residential site in Korangi’s Mehran Town district, in contravention of the guidelines.
When asked how a chemical factory was functioning in a residential area, both the KDA and the SBCA, which are both under the province local government ministry, appeared to pass the buck.
According to KDA records, the 600-square-yard plot C-40 where the chemical facility was located was a residential plot, according to DG Asif Memon.
“The plot on our records is residential,” he added, adding that the plot has been owned by Faisal Tariq since 2017, according to their land records.
Commercial operations are not permitted on residential sites, he stated. He did, however, clear the KDA of any blame for the incident, claiming that the master plan department and the SBCA were in charge of building plan approval and monitoring.
When questioned if the KDA had ever written to the plot owner or the building control authority about the site’s industrial use, he said he didn’t know and needed to double-check.
Meanwhile, SBCA spokesperson Faran Qaiser said that once the fire was extinguished, building control teams were on the scene but were unable to gain entry to the structure due to the cooling process.
He stated the SBCA would investigate into the matter of the plot’s illegal change in land use and release a report by Monday.
The Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations, 2002, contain the fire laws for buildings. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) fire department is responsible for certifying the buildings’ fire safety procedures, while the civil defence agency is responsible for conducting regular inspections.
None of these departments, on the other hand, appear to be following their own guidelines or even collaborating with one another, leaving citizens to fend for themselves.
According to SBCA guidelines, all structures with three stories or more, or those are more than 43 feet tall, should have a set of standpipes erected in a vertical position to which fire hoses can be connected, allowing manual water application to the fire.
In 2014, Mustafa Jamal Kazi, the then-South deputy commissioner (DC), and Zubair Ahmed Channa, the then-Korangi DC, issued a notification directing all industrial units to implement the prescribed firefighting arrangements and associated protective measures under the Civil Defence Act 1951 within 15 days. The notification, like many other rules and laws, appears to have gone unnoticed.
‘A tragic incident’
PPP’s Barrister Murtaza Wahab, the recently appointed KMC Administrator, paid a visit to the plant and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), where the injured and deceased had been sent.
The Mehran Town factory fire, according to Wahab, who also serves as the Sindh government’s spokesperson, was an unfortunate tragedy. Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Chief Minister, he claimed, has also taken notice of the fire.
“We are devastated by the tragedy,” he said, adding that a thorough investigation into the fire will be conducted and that all legal requirements would be satisfied. “I express my sympathies to the victims’ families “Speaking during a press conference about the unfortunate occurrence in Korangi, he stated.
The incident was reported to the fire department at 10:09 a.m., and the crew left at 10:10 a.m., he added. All precautions were made to put out the fire as quickly as possible and save life, but a key challenge in the rescue operation, he noted, was that there was likely no emergency exit.
Wahab said the fire started on the factory’s first floor, where 21 workers were working. He went on to say that police and fire department employees were looking into the incident and that their findings would be shared with the media.
Meanwhile, Mubeen Ahmed, the KMC Chief Fire Officer, told the media that the fire started on the factory’s first floor. To get to the second floor, he stated they used snorkels and cranes. He also mentioned that the factory’s roof door had been sealed. It would have been easier for them to rescue labourers if the door had been open, he claimed.
17 workers are killed in a chemical manufacturing fire.
At least 17 workers were killed in a fire at a chemical facility in Karachi on Friday, according to reports.
17 bodies were removed from the industrial premises, according to Deputy Commissioner Korangi Samiullah Odho.
He had stated, “We have not got any word regarding any additional people being trapped inside.”
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