Sunday October 24, 2021

Four days on, SBCA yet to issue report on Korangi factory fire

September 01, 2021
Four days on, SBCA yet to issue report on Korangi factory fire

Despite the passage of four days, the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) is yet to release a report on the factory fire in Korangi’s Mehran Town that left over a dozen people dead on Friday.

The unsatisfactory performance of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and the SBCA became evident once again on August 27 when 17 lives were lost following a fire that broke out at a chemical factory situated on a residential plot.

KDA Director General Asif Memon confirmed that the 600-square-yard plot No. C-40 on which the factory was situated was a residential plot according to their records. “The plot in our records is residential,” he said, adding that since 2017, the plot’s owner, according to their land records, was a man named Faisal Tariq.

SBCA spokesman Faran Qaiser had earlier said that a report on the fire would be released by Monday. But he remained unreachable on Tuesday despite repeated attempts to get in touch with him. Their media department also did not issue any report.

As a knee-jerk reaction to Friday’s incident, however, the SBCA sealed around 20 factories on Tuesday on account of them being constructed over residential plots. The KDA DG also visited Mehran Town with his team. The SBCA spokesman had earlier denied his organisation’s role in allowing factories to be constructed on residential plots, saying that the issue fell under the KDA or the master plan department.

According to the SBCA’s letter pasted outside one of the factories in District Korangi, their construction was against the approved plan, and their use of the premises was in violation of Section 5(2) and 5(3) of the SBCA Ordinance 1979.

The letter read that with reference to the August 27 incident, it had been observed that the construction had been carried out by way of changes in land use other than the approved building plan and the land development permit, violating various SBCA sections and clauses of the Karachi Building & Town Planning Regulations 2002.

The SBCA directed the building owners to stop all their illegal activities, and to restore the construction according to the building plan that had been approved. KDA DG Memon during his visit to Mehran Town reiterated that his department would not allow its land to be used illegally. “Residential plots will not be allowed to be illegally used as commercial,” he said, adding that allotment letters of all such plots would be cancelled.

He warned the owners of all KDA plots who had illegally changed their land use, asking them to restore the land’s status to their original land use within 15 days, otherwise his organisation would take stern action and also file police complaints against them.

KDA DG Memon said that the ownership of such plots would also be cancelled, and that his organisation would take such plots under its own possession. In Mehran Town, the KDA had completed their residential project by 1974 for overseas Pakistanis. The purpose of the project, according to a press statement issued by the organisation, was to provide residential facilities at a lower cost to overseas citizens.