Toxic Industrial Gas’ Disaster to Ravi Industrial Zone; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

28 January 2023

Toxic Industrial Gas Kills 18 People in Karachi

In an unfortunate incident this week, at least 18 people mostly children have died, apparently due to inhaling toxic gas emanating from industrial units unlawfully set up within residential neighbourhoods in the city`s Keamari district. Health officials say the suspicious deaths occurred after the factories were set up, while locals complained of noxious fumes in the air. A team of health department was sent to the area concerned and according to their preliminary investigation, “the cause of deaths is some chemicals which are developing interstitial lung disease”.

 Sources said that at least two factories operating in the residential locality had been sealed. Later on, while the authorities also sealed three more industrial units and set up medical camps, it remained unknown what mysterious product these manufacturing plants were producing. Besides, a Sindh Environmental Protection Agency team, which collected samples, expressed its shock over the operation of “illegal factories” in the residential areas, saying they only learnt about their presence after the disaster. However, residents believe that the tragedy was in the making for the past several months, but no action was taken. It is a great apathy, that even the formal industrial sector is poorly regulated in Pakistan; what occurs in the informal sector, in factories and warehouses illegally opened up in congested neighbourhoods, is the stuff of nightmares.

Ravi Industrial Estate

According to a news report, the Punjab government has specified the land use in the Rs30 billion Ravi Industrial Estate on 1,239 acres in the phase-II of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development (RRUD) Project, which also includes rehabilitation of the existing industrial area in the phase-I, called the Ravi Industrial Zone, on 950 acres. The report further reveals, the total area (both of the existing industrial area and newly planned one) is 2,200 acres that includes 950 acres of the existing industrial zone developed in an unplanned manner on scattered pieces of land in the past. The area for the new industrial estate is 1,239 acres for which land-use of various natures has been specified by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda)the government`s entity executing the project.

The industrial estate project objectives include integration of existing industries to control and discourage the irregular expansion, up-gradation of existing industrial area through provision of new roads and infrastructural facilities of water supply, sewerage and drainage system, maintaining uniformity in road width and vehicular movement by allocating minimum and maximum road widths, implementing building by-laws for existing industrial area, implementation of Environmental Laws to control smog and other types of pollution. The power source will be made available through a self-sufficient sustainable power grid station (solar power) with uninterrupted electricity supply. It would have a combined effluent wastewater treatment plant, transport system (Green Bus Transit System i.e. electric busses), separate bus lanes and stations throughout the industrial estates.

Most Expensive Plot, Sold

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has auctioned the most expensive plot in its history this week. The Chairman of CDA and Chief Commissioner, Captain (R) Muhammad Usman Younis in a tweet reveals that the CDA raised Rs. 8.54 billion from the sale of the plot measuring 5,952 square yards in Blue Area, which is the most expensive plot in the history of Islamabad. The civic body kicked off its three-day auction at Jinnah Convention Centre, and amid an overwhelming response from investors, as it managed to auction eight plots in a day worth Rs 22.1 billion.

A CDA official said the civic agency was expected to bag around Rs20 billion in revenue from the three-day auction but due to the `very positive` response in spite of bleak economic conditions, it fetched more than Rs22 billion on the first day. The highlight of the auction was a 611.11 square yards (about 1 kanal) plot number 13 in Blue Area the business hub of the federal capital. This piece of land was auctioned for Rs1.83 billion Rs3m for a square yard. While another plot in Blue Area (F-7/G-7) portion, measuring 5,952 square yards, was auctioned against Rs 1.435m per square yard fetching a total amount of Rs8.54 billion.

Steel Prices jumps Exorbitantly

In a record inflation, the prices of steel have jumped twice in this week to reach at Rs. 277,000 per ton. After increasing the prices by Rs10, 000 less than a week ago, the steel makers delivered the second price shock of Rs22, 000 per ton despite thin construction activities evident from dwindling cement sales during July-December 2022-23. Steel makers has now jacked up steel bar prices to an unprecedented high of Rs277,000 per ton blaming a massive rupee devaluation and rising prices of raw materials that pushed up the cost of production. The surging prices of the key building materials have put extra pressure on the construction cost which has risen by 60pc in less than a year.

Though the manufacturers have attributed the price hike to unexpected shortages of raw materials, the non-opening of letters of credit, rising cost of production and unfavourable economic conditions. But a former office-bearer of the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) said steel bar makers are creating an artificial crisis by hoarding steel bars aimed at taking up the price up to Rs3OO, 000 per ton besides holding stocks of steel scraps for at least two months. He also said the construction cost has swelled by 60% in the last year and would rise further given uncontrollable price increases in construction materials especially steel bars and cement.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment