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A year on,two-storey building comes up at Shital collapse site

Exactly a year after the collapse of Shital Fibres — owned by industrialist Shital Vij — led to the death of 23 labourer and left over 60 injured,a new two-storey building has come up at the same spot.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Updated: April 16, 2014 12:56:37 pm

Exactly a year after the collapse of Shital Fibres — owned by industrialist Shital Vij — led to the death of 23 labourer and left over 60 injured,a new two-storey building has come up at the same spot.

Even after the April 15,2012 incident,the plot on which the five-storey Shital Fibres factory was constructed in complete violation of building bylaws was not cancelled by the Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC).

According to norms,PSIEC could have cancelled the plot for violations,which had been proved in every probe that followed the collapse. But instead,the department has allowed the re-construction of a building at the same plot in the city’s Focal Point area.

A visit to the place revealed that over 10 machines had been installed at the building,where work had started a few days ago.

“We have recommended to our department that allotment of the same plot where Shital Fibres was constructed illegally should be cancelled. But cancellation can be done only at the government level,” said senior PSIEC official,adding that re-construction should not have been allowed at the spot.

Meanwhile,even after a year of the tragedy,the government is yet to take action against the various state departments,which were supposed to check the violations. The owner of the building has also not been brought to book for committing the violations even after three probes ordered by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Though all reports of three probes were sent to the government within a couple of months of the incident,no departmental action was initiated against anyone. The case registered by Jalandhar police,meanwhile,is pending in court.

The administrative inquiry report submitted by Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner S R Ladhar to the chief secretary had pointed that Shital Vij had committed several irregularities while running the unit and also raised fingers at various departments — including PSIEC,which had allotted the plot — Punjab Pollution Control Board,factory department,district industry centre,state power corporation and Jalandhar Municipal Corporation. However,no departmental action had been initiated against any erring officials.

The factory department had also field six criminal complaints against Vij and his son for committing irregularities in his other factories also but it took no action against its own erring officials. The technical enquiry,conducted by three-member committee led by Technical Advisor to Punjab government,Lt Gen (retd) B S Dhaliwal,had also mentioned serious flaws in the design of the collapsed building.

When contacted,Industry minister Anil Joshi said: “I will look into why action had not been taken till date. Many departments were involved in this case and action would have to be taken by these only.” On the role of PSIEC,Joshi said: “After allotment,I don’t think PSIEC has any role in cancellation of a plot.”

Despite repeated attempts,PSIEC Managing Director M P Arora was not available for comments.

Meanwhile,Centre of Trade Union on Sunday took out a huge rally of labourers at the Focal Point area,protesting against the state government and Shital Vij. While paying tributes to the deceased labourers,Hari Muni Singh,district general secretary of the union,said: “We want action against the erring government departments… If action is not taken,then we will intensify the agitation.”

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