Contrary to policy of the Punjab government, illegal business activities are being carried out in residential areas in connivance with the concerned departments setting aside all rules and regulations.
Under the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, no business activities could be carried out in housing colonies and the Municipal Corporation (MC) Officer concerned is bound to ensure conducive atmosphere for citizens.
According to a survey, more than 100 illegal factories are functioning in various residential colonies of the city, out of which, 40 are located in alone the Khyaban-e-Sir Syed, Bagh Sardaran, old Baddar colony and Bangash colonies. The Khyaban-e-Sir Syed (Dhoke Najju) , where illegal businesses including recycling of plastic for shoe making, leather refining and scrap-trade on a large scale are rampant, has turned into a volcano that may trigger anytime and cause irrecoverable human loss, if immediate action is not taken against them.
Residents of the area told media that the illegal commercial activities in the area had made their lives difficult as they have to face unpleasant smell of chemicals used in plastic recycling and leather’s refining coupled with a lot of noise pollution besides threat of fire incidents.
They, in a written complaint to the Punjab Chief Minister and the departments concerned, have feared outbreak of COVID-19,asthma disease and happening of big fire incidents similar as have recently occurred in Lahore and Karachi. “Breaking out of small fires is almost a regular feature as there is no firefighting system and emergency exit,” they added.
Sheikh Yasir ,former Councilor of the area, alleged that residential area was being used for commercial purpose in connivance with the RMC staff as no one could dare to start their business without the authority’s backing. He was of the view that ‘Monthly’ was given on regular basis to run illegal business in housing colonies to shut their mouth, close their eyes and for turning a deaf ear to the issue.
He said the main gates of such factories always remain closed to hide their illegal operations, adding “Chemicals are stored in great quantity in their premises without taking safety measures.” He said there were no adequate firefighting arrangements in the premises of these factories, which were operating without registration with any government institution like Provincial Labour Department, Civil Defence Department or Workers Welfare Board. Thus no inspection of these factories has ever been carried out by any relevant government agency.
Azeem Butt and Shabbir Mir residents of the house in whose rear side a bakery, shoe factories and scrap godowns are situated, complained that the smoke emitted from the burning of scrap material, bakery items and recycling of plastic for shoe making enter their houses from the windows of their rear side rooms due to which their children are becoming patients of asthma and sour eyes.
Talking to media, former Town Member of Rawal Town Council Shahida Shabir stressed upon the Deputy Commissioner (DC) to take immediate notice of the issue and clear the residential area of ‘lethal activities, which has become a hub for various kind of commercial activities.