Notice issued on petition against demolition


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Notice issued on petition against demolition

KARACHI, Jan 3: The high court of Sindh on Wednesday issued a notice to the city government of Karachi in a petition challenging the demolition of the boundary wall of a bungalow on the Queen’s Road without any notice.

Advocate Sattar Osman Memon appearing for the petitioner submitted that the boundary wall of the bungalow raised on plot no: 1-A, measuring about 1,733 square yards and owned by the petitioner, a private company, had been demolished.

He also contended that since the bungalow was owned by the petitioner company, hence at least a notice about its partial demolition should have been served to it by the authority concerned.He submitted that perhaps the demolition was carried out for the purpose for making a service road along the Queen’s Road under a road expansion/ widening project of the CDGK.

The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmay and Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed adjourned the proceedings till January 12 and issued notices to the CDGK and other respondents.

DACOITY CASE: A single bench of the High Court of Sindh comprising Justice Syed Zawwar Hussain Jaffery on Wednesday directed the trial court to record evidence of the prosecution witness as well as of the complainant within four months and rejected the bail applications in an alleged dacoity case.

The bench dismissed the two applications moved by applicants/accused Chamman Khan and Haji Mustaqeem, a co- accused in the same case.

Advocates Lal Chand Mamtani and Jamroz Khan Afridi appearing for the applicants/accused did not press the bail applications and requested for directions for the trail court to record evidence of the complainant and PW Gulzar.

Assistant Advocate-General Agha Zafir represented the state and raised no objection to the requests.

The applicants/accused were booked by the Anti-Dacoity and Robbery Cell in a case lodged by Channesar reporting about the robbery of Rs100,000 on April 15, 2006.
Both the applicants have submitted that they were falsely implicated in the matter.

(Dawn-19, 04/01/2007)

Five killed in Karachi factory inferno
KARACHI: Five people, including three fire-fighters, were killed and nearly two dozens more were trapped on Monday in an inferno at a garment factory in the SITE area of Karachi on Monday, police said.
The central fire station said the fire erupted around 11:30am in the Union Export Private Limited Company, near Metroville. Within minutes, it engulfed the entire factory, reducing goods worth millions of rupees to ashes.

When the fire-fighters were struggling to extinguish the blaze, the roof of the three-storey building caved in. As a result, five people lost their lives, who were identified as Fire Station Officer Nazimabad, Yasir Iqbal, 35, Fire Station Officer Baldia Town, Javed Akhter, 30, and Fireman, Muhammad Naeem, 40, posted in Nazimabad and two factory employees Muhammad Saleem, 30, and Sajid Hussain, 30.

The injured were identified as Yaseen, Yousuf, Arif, Raees, Irfan, Iqbal, Aziz, Fayyaz, Shafeeq, Manzoor, Iftikhar, Sajid, Ahmed, Wajid and Haseeb. The dead and injured were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. Deceased Yasir Iqbal was the brother-in-law of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town Nazim, Wasey Jalil.

Due to the roof collapse, at least 35 people were trapped under the rubble, of whom 15 were pulled out, but still 20 people, including firemen and factory workers, were trapped under the rubble and fire-fighters and rescue workers were trying to retrieve them.

At least 15 fire tenders took part in dousing the blaze, whereas the fire officials declared it high-risk fire. The conflagration was so intense that thick black smoke could be seen billowing from far-flung areas of the city. The officials said that the cause of the fire was electric short circuit.

The KESC and the SSGC officials immediately disconnected power and gas supply. Police and Edhi and Chippa ambulances also rushed to the spot and carried out the rescue work. As a result of the fire, vehicular traffic came to a standstill and vehicles were stuck up on nearby roads for hours.

Salis bin Perwaiz adds: The building that crumbled due to the fire was illegal, claimed the chief fire officer. He said among those trapped under the rubble, 15 were firemen. He said they were facing difficulty in the rescue work, as the building was constructed on a hill and the platform was built far away from the spot. They have four big cranes but due to congestion the rescue work could not be carried out, he said, adding that now they were constructing an artificial ramp at the spot so that the cranes could clear the debris and retrieve the trapped people.
Around midnight, the rescue work was started as the ramp was constructed. The chief fire officer said the Army’s 5 Corps with their engineers, fire officials and town officials along with machinery have started the rescue work and started removing the rubble.

Meanwhile, the Sindh home adviser has ordered a probe against the factory owners and their immediate arrest. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was in the city on Monday, condoled over the loss of lives. Captain Fazal of Rangers Sindh said that about 100 troops of Rangers were deployed and started rescue work and providing first aid.

(By Kamran Mansoor, The News-1, 16/01/2007)

Roof collapses during fire, kills 4

KARACHI: At least four people, including three firefighters, were killed after they were buried under debris from roof of a factory during a fire Monday. Firefighters rescued more then 20 people from the factory in SITE area but four firefighters are still missing. Rescue teams of the CDGK, police, and the fire brigade are searching for the missing people.

At 11:30 a.m. on Monday, a fire erupted in the stitching department of Union Textile Mills. Factory workers rushed outside the factory premises after they heard the fire alarm. They also informed the fire brigade. Firefighters reportedly reached the spot within 20 minutes. In the meantime the fire had engulfed a major part of the factory.

A spokesman for the Fire Brigade department told Daily Times that initially they sent four fire tenders but they failed to control the fire. Later they sent more fire tenders from different fire stations, including Nazimabad, Baldia, Sohrab Goth, and Keamari.

More then sixty firefighters and some factory workers were taking part in the operation when a pillar of the building fell down around 02:30 p.m. and the roof of the building collapsed before they could get out.

More then 40 people were trapped in the debris. Most of them were firemen. After a long and difficult operation, rescue teams managed to remove four bodies and 15 injured men from the debris.

Chief Fire Officer Kazim Ali told Daily Times that more than 20 firefighters were performing their duties when the building collapsed. Four firefighters are still in the debris, he said and added that the death toll could increase after the debris is removed completely.

The rescue operation took more time due to the lack of heavy machinery. The deceased were identified as Station Fire Officer (SFO) Baldia Javed Alam, SFO Nazimabad Yasir Iqbal, Nazimabad Fireman Mohammad Naeem and the factory's stitching department foreman Saleem Ahmed. Another body was found later during the operation. The deceased was identified as Ahmed Noor. His body, however, is yet to be removed from the debris. Noor was helping to put out the fire on the first floor when the building collapsed.

Kazim Ali said that the building was constructed illegally and didn't have proper arrangements for fire fighting. He said that the fire was not a chemical fire but spread due to the stacks of cloth in the factory. It is surprising that the building collapsed, he said and added that it could be due to the weak structure of the building.

The fire department is facing a leadership crisis for the last six months. In October, the DCO reportedly suspended the chief fire officer over some departmental issue and the Deputy Chief Fire Officer Naeem Yousuf was assigned the charge of CFO. Yousuf recently fell sick and was hospitalized. After the suspension of the CFO, DO Fire Brigade Masood Alam was taking care of matters pertaining to the fire department. Sources said that he is abroad and the department does not have any responsible official to look after its operations.

On Monday, Kazim Ali, the suspended CFO, was again given the charge of the department. City Nazim Mustafa Kamal called him during his visit of the affected factory and asked him to resume his duties. Those injured in the fire include Abdul Hasib, Akhter, Riaz, Wajid, Yaseen, Mohammad Saleem, Aziz, Mohammad Yousuf, Arif, Sajid Hussain, Iqbal, Irfan, Mansoor, Sahfique, and Faiz of the fire department.

Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister for Home Wasim Akhtar also visited the affected site and ordered an inquiry into the matter.

Moreover, the CDGK has invited Army teams to help remove debris from the site. The Army has deployed two teams of two different corps. A total of 51 officials, including 31 from Engineering and 20 from the corps of Electrical and Mechanical engineering are now part of the rescue operation.

Twelve fire tenders of the CDGK, two from the KPT and two from the Navy have also been placed at the spot, along with heavy machinery brought in by the CDGK and the Army.

(Daily Times-B1, 16/01/2007)

Fighting fire at cost of their lives
KARACHI, Jan 16: Monday’s fire in a garment warehouse, which claimed lives of six firemen leaving three still trapped under the rubble, has exposed the near collapse state of the fire department service.

The fire department’s capacity is insufficient to meet the requirements of the city and the latest incident is likely to affect the morale of the already neglected fire department.

Rescue officials said three firemen Imtiazul Haq, Fareed Khan and Naseer were still trapped under the rubble. Korangi Fire Station Officer Ishtiaq Ahmed suffered critical wounds and Site Fire Station Officer Mobin suffered fractures.

It is perhaps the most under resourced department faced with manpower shortage. As put by a fireman, “The department has never been taken seriously by the authorities concerned irrespective of who is in power”.

The state of affairs can be assessed from the fact that Chief Fire Officer Kazim Ali was under suspension since November 22. The routine affairs were being looked after by the deputy chief fire officer Naeem Yousuf, who reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown and was in hospital coinciding with the Monday’s fire inferno.

The chain of command suffered the last jolt when Fire Officer Ehtesham, who had taken charge from the deputy chief, got injured in the fire fighting operation on Monday.
After assessing the situation, the city nazim had to call CFO Kazim Ali at the place of the incident and reinstated him only on verbal orders.

Unlike the army and police services, survivors of “Shaheed” firemen do not receive monthly salary and other benefits.

Instead of special insurance policy, the firemen are provided with the general group insurance policy which is compulsory for all government servants.

In case of death in line of duty, the heirs of a fireman receive an amount of Rs300,000. Jobs were earlier provided to his blood relations, but due to recent ban on jobs this practice too suffered, insiders said adding that the jobs offered to such relatives recently were contract-based.

So far 17 firemen and officers of fire brigade department have sacrificed their lives and four rendered handicapped while saving citizens since 1958.

First accidental death of a fireman was recorded in 1958 when a huge fire broke out in a fireworks factory at Bohri Bazaar. Khannan Khan, the unfortunate fireman, succumbed to the burn wounds while extinguishing the fire.

Fireman Qamaruddin lost his life while attempting to save the life of a child who got trapped in a building where a major fire had erupted at Khajoor Bazaar in 1965. But, he neither succeeded to bring out the child nor managed to save his own life as the building structure collapsed during his attempt.

Alam Khan died of suffocation while he was striving to rescue some labourers who were trapped in an oil tanker, which caught fire in 1971.

In 1985, fireman Abdul Ghaffar Khan drowned to death when he was searching the body of a drowned child in a lake.

Sub Fire Officer Muhammad Shafiq was shot dead in 1992 by some miscreants while he was busy in putting off the fire that broke in a shop near Khokhrapar Post Officer.

Fireman Waseem Shaikh died of inhalation of toxic chemicals in 1992 while controlling the fire, which broke out at a chemical godown near Ran Pathani Railway Station.

Sub Fire Officer Abdul Majeed was crushed under the front wheel of a fire tender, which had rushed to Shershah to extinguish fire in 1992.

In 1995, fireman Gulam Rasool was busy in extinguishing the fire of a truck, which was set ablaze by miscreants at Korangi 5 ½ when he received bullet wounds in a cross fire between the miscreants and police. He was taken to the hospital but succumbed to the wounds during the operation.

In 1997, Sub Fire Officer Muhammad Siddique was shot dead by unknown assailants when he was on duty at the Central Fire Station, Baba-i-Urdu Road.

In 2006, Sub Fire Officer Aqeel Ahmad and firemen Sher Ahmad and Zubair Ahmad lost their lives in Site fire tragedy.

Fire Station Officer Zafar Akhtar died in a chemical godown while struggling to put off fire last year.

This year’s first incident of fire left six firemen dead as a result of roof collapse while they were extinguishing the fire that broke out in a garment godown.

Besides, several firemen were rendered handicapped, many received burn wounds while discharging their duties following the back draft of fire and caving in of affected buildings.

(By S. Raza Hassan, Dawn-17, 17/01/2007)

4 trapped firemen feared dead: Rescue operation enters day two
KARACHI, Jan 16: Hopes of rescuing alive the four firemen trapped under the rubble of the fire-wrecked factory faded on Tuesday as a rescue operation, supervised by army men, entered its second day.

Five firemen were killed and 18 injured on Monday when a four-storey garment factory caved in after a devastating blaze in the Site area.

An injured fireman succumbed to injuries at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on Tuesday, taking the death toll to six.

Rescue workers say the main problem impeding the rescue operation of the trapped victims is the strewn debris comprising large boulders covering the entire accident site.

Heavy equipment such as crane-drillers and shovels are being used for removing the debris from the rear and front of the collapsed four-storey portion of the factory, but the operation is proceeding at an extremely slow pace, unable to penetrate through the debris from the collapsed ceilings of three floors where the victims still lie buried.

Ali Manzil, a fireman, told Dawn that the rescue workers had identified the four firemen trapped under the rubble as Ahmed Noor, Naseer, Fareed Khan, and Fire Officer Imtiazul Haq.

He said one of the fireman, Ghulam Ali, was also trapped with other firemen when the building caved in but, “he managed to come out of the debris and told us that the fire officer and three other firemen, who were with him when the building collapsed, were still down there.”

Fireman Shakeel said the rescue workers had managed to enter a part of the collapsed building through the rubble and they had seen the body of Ahmed Noor stuck under a pillar. “But they couldn’t get through to Noor as it was impossible to take out the body from the heavy pillar, and had to come out of the collapsed structure, without him,” he said.

Another rescue worker said the pace of the rescue operation was too slow mainly because of restricted space for moving in the rescue equipment. “It could take another 24 hours to remove the debris.”

The watchman of the factory, Raees Khan, said that he had seen an electric cable giving off sparks from the ground floor before the fire engulfed the fabric godown of the stitching department of the factory. “I along with other employees tried to extinguish the fire with fire extinguishers, but it spread rapidly,” he said.

He said as many as 22 labourers were hired to remove the material from the gutted section and some of them were believed to have been inside the godown when the building collapsed.

Station Fire Officer of the Naval Fire Service Qabil Shah said that four fire engines from the NFS were also performing the rescue service. “The collapsed building is still smouldering,” he added.

The SFO has said as many as 106 rescue workers from the NFS are involved in the rescue operation which is continuing round the clock.

An army major, who is supervising the rescue operation with his strong team, told Dawn that the main problem in the rescue operation was that there was no drawing/plans of the building’s layout available. “We are here for support since last night and have guided the rescue workers in the use of the equipment,” he added.

Nazeer Mohammed, a fireman from the Central Fire Station, appearing confounded by the situation on the ground said the buildings did not collapse due to the intensity of fire.

“I have never seen such a building collapse due to fire in my 23-years of service,” he remarked. The fireman indicated that the building most probably collapsed due to the sub-standard material used in the construction.

“I have heard people say that two of the pillars of the collapsed building were too weak, to withstand any kind of shock,” he said, adding “and since the collapsed building is too narrow, this is resulting in a great deal of problem for the rescue workers, as only one machine, whether it be a driller or shovel, can be moved in at a time.”

(By Tahir Siddiqui, Dawn-17, 17/01/2007)

Factory fire death toll rises to nine
KARACHI: Three more bodies of firemen were recovered from the rubble of the collapsed factory in SITE Area on Wednesday. After the confirmation of their demise, the death toll has increased to nine.

According to the Central Fire Station, one fireman and at least 12 factory workers are still missing.

The rescue team on Wednesday recovered bodies of three firemen — Station Officer Nazimabad, Imtiaz-ul-Haq, 30, Ahmed Noor, 40, of Baldia Town and Naseer Ahmed, 35, of Saddar fire station.

According to the officials, one fireman Fareed Khan of Baldia Town and 12 factory workers are still missing.

The fire had erupted in the stitching department of the factory in Metroville, SITE, on Monday morning. Before the arrival of the fire-fighters, the fire had engulfed a major part of the factory. More than sixty fire-fighters from the entire city and some factory workers were involved in the operation, when a pillar of the building crumbled and the roof caved in before they could get out.

More than 40 people were trapped inside the factory, including firemen. After a long and difficult operation, rescue teams managed to pull out five bodies and 15 injured men from the debris. Wajid Khan, 35, one of the rescued factory workers, died on Tuesday.

robberies: Farhan, a driver in the organisation, said that he along with the reporters of the channel were filming in Bhittai Colony near Nadi Bund when armed men came and at gunpoint snatched the movie camera, cellphones and cash from them. When they resisted, the outlaws opened fire due to which a passer-by Jehangir Lashari, 50, got killed. The robbers managed to escape with the looted booty.

INJURED: Sarwat, 37, was shot and injured by her former husband near MA Jinnah Road. The police said that Sarwat had in the past lodged an FIR against Naseer for kidnapping in the Soldier Bazar police station for which he was sent to jail. In order to take revenge, when Naseer returned from the jail, he shot and injured Sarwat and escaped.

Paris Shafiq, 35, a contractor, received stab wounds by a factory worker, Habib-ur-Rehman, when he attacked him for terminating his service in Site town area. The police have registered a case in this regard.

(The News-2, 18/01/2007)

City dept keen to help landlord: School’s eviction ordered
KARACHI, Jan 18: The fate of hundreds of students of a school hangs in the balance following the orders of the Sindh government and the City District Education Department to the effect that the Federal English Government Boys Secondary and Primary School in Firdous Colony must vacate the school building.

The Executive District Officer, Fakhar Karim Siddiqui sent a note to the Sindh Education Secretary Sabhago Khan Jatoi for approval, who sent it back to her on Thursday with instructions that she may take action as per the direction already issued to her by a former secretary education.

Nearly eight years ago the Sindh Education Department had issued a notification to the Federal English Boys Secondary School to transfer its morning shift students over to the Government Boys Secondary School in Firdous Colony and the second shift students to the Bano Government Boys Secondary School also in Firdous Colony.

Well-placed sources in the Education Department said that the place where the school building is located has become prime land and the builders have been eyeing this valuable location for several years. The orders to vacate the building, on the initiation of its owner were first issued on Oct 10, 1998, and the District Education Officer concerned was directed to take necessary action on it immediately within 30 days. However, the DEO was unable to carry out the eviction order and on July 23, 1999, he informed the concerned authorities that he had tried to get the school building vacated but was unsuccessful because of stiff resistance put up by the school’s management and staff. The school’s resistance resulted in getting the order suspended and the Director of Secondary and Higher Secondary Schools subsequently issued an office order on August 19, 1999 according to which he had stated that the orders issued on Nov 11, 1998, should be held in abeyance.

The move to vacate the building was again initiated in 2003, but the school authorities managed to stop it again and the building was not vacated. The defunct owner of the school building again moved an application to the District Coordination Officer of the City Government sometime later, requesting to shift the students from the building and asking for the possession of the building.

Following the latest application from the building’s owner, the Sindh Education Department is taking a keen interest in the case and has issued two letters – on August 9, 2006 and on September 22, 2006 – directing the concerned authorities to get the building vacated and hand over vacant possession to the owner. Subsequently, the file regarding the shifting of the students to other school buildings moved swiftly and the orders to vacate the building were issued in nine days from January 9 to January 18 this year.

The latest reports are, the city government’s present EDO Education has sought approval from the Sindh Secretary Education asking necessary action be taken on the directives issued by a former Education Secretary.

Sources said the nationalised schools were given to community-based organizations in the private sector under a government’s policy. These community based organisations were bound to run these schools effectively and to bring improvement in the education standard of those schools. No school building was ever vacated. One wonders why the city education department is so keen.

(By Arman Sabir, Dawn-17, 19/01/2007)

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