M A I N   N E W S

jalandhar tragedy
Probe panel set to start work; report likely in 2 months
Ruchika M. Khanna/TNS

Chandigarh, April 25
The three-member inquiry committee constituted by the Punjab government to look into the flaws and shortcomings that led to the collapse of the Shital Fibres unit at Jalandhar, claiming 24 lives, will begin proceedings from tomorrow.

The committee, headed by Lt Gen (retd) B S Dhaliwal, technical adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, will start its formal proceedings to assess the technical reasons for the collapse of the building and fix accountability for allowing the factory to be built and operated, by giving a complete go-by to the rules.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Lt Gen Dhaliwal said though the committee, which also comprises the head of structural design department of Punjab Engineering College and the Engineer- in- chief of PWD (B&R), had met informally earlier, they will begin the formal proceedings for conducting the inquiry from tomorrow. “The inquiry proceedings will be conducted on a regular basis. We hope to submit the inquiry report within two months,” he said.

As the inquiry committee begins its probe, it will be looking at how the unit was allowed to function without getting the mandatory licence of operation from the Labour Department. For five years, hundreds of workers in this factory, built on 100 per cent area of the industrial plot, were involved in manufacturing blankets and the unit never got a building stability certificate. The rules clearly state that no industry can begin manufacturing before it gets this certificate. The government officers, who failed to check how the factory was allowed to operate, will also be summoned for the inquiry proceedings.

The Tribune has reported in its columns regarding the gross building by violations of laws by the factory owner. Against a sanctioned height of 38 feet, the factory building had been raised to 42 feet approx, with the third floor having just a tin shed as roof. For over five years that this unit had been operational, its building plans were never approved, nor did the factory owner ever submit a structural design plan which is mandatory under the rules. Giving a complete go-by to the rules for having a zoning plan, built-up area of the factory was 100 per cent of size of the industrial plot. No safety audit of the factory premises was ever carried out.

what The Tribune ExposÈd

  • Shital Fibres did not have a licence of operation
  • It had a 100% built-up area on the 2,500-square yard plot
  • Its structural design plan, building plan and zoning plan were not submitted to the Labour Department
  • Factory management did not have building stability certificate; Labour Department officers also never checked
  • Against the sanctioned 38 feet, the factory was raised to 42 feet
  • Four Deputy Directors, Factories, posted in Jalandhar 2007 onwards never took suo moto action against the factory owner





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