An inquiry being conducted by divisional commissioner Anurag Verma has detected major violations by industrial unit Shital Fibres, whose building collapsed on April 15. The death toll in the tragedy is 19 till date.
"When I enquired from the deputy director (factories), he told me that the unit did not figure in records of the industries department," Verma told Hindustan Times.
"The deputy director has been told to reply in writing how many units he visited after joining five months ago. It is mandatory to visit at least 20 industrial units in a month," Verma said, adding that information was being sought from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to find out whether the mandatory certificate was obtained by the unit.
"The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has been told to explain why no action was taken against the unit which had no sanctioned power connection since its inception," Verma said.
The divisional commissioner said he contacted the principal secretary (industry) after Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) did not reply to his queries. Verma said the principal secretary ensured the supply of information about Shital Fibres' status.
"As per the preliminary inquiry, several violations were committed by Shital Fibres. I will recommend strict action against the erring officials," Verma said, adding that he would submit his report to the chief minister within the stipulated period of 21 days.
Asked whether there was any violation of labour laws, as some juvenile workers were rescued from the debris, Verma said his current focus was on finding out the reasons for the building collapse.
Meanwhile, when asked whether environmental clearance was given to Shital Fibres, PPCB superintending engineer SP Garg said he was still probing the matter, while forwarding the query to executive engineer Manohar Lal. The latter, in turn, referred the query to his junior, sub-divisional officer (SDO) Harpal Singh, who bounced it back to Manohar Lal.
It is learnt that the PPCB, in a face-saving exercise, issued a notice to Shital Fibres after the mishap for violation of pollution norms.
SS Sarna, chief engineer, PSPCL, also evaded the question when asked how the industrial unit was allowed to use the power connection of an adjoining unit.
"PSPCL chairman KD Chaudhary has already commented on the issue. Now, there is no need for my comment," Sarna said.
Though Shital Fibres had been violating various norms for more than seven years, the directorate of factories and the state labour department finally took action on Tuesday by slapping six cases against owner Shital Vij.
The ISO:9002 certified company never submitted a building plan designed by a certified architect to the PSIEC for approval.
Though the norms mandated that construction be carried out in 60% area only, the owner allegedly covered almost 100% of the plot size.