Contrary to the policy of Punjab government, illegal business activities were being carried out in residential areas in connivance with the concerned departments setting aside all rules and regulations. Under the Punjab Local Government Rules, no business activities could be carried out in housing colonies and the Municipal Corporation (MC) Officer concerned was bound to ensure conducive atmosphere for citizens. According to a survey, more than 100 illegal factories were operating in various residential colonies of the city, out of which, 40 were located alone in the Khyaban-e-sirsyed, Bagh sardaran, old Baddar colony and Bangash colonies. The Khyaban-e-sirsyed (Dhoke Najju), where illegal businesses including recycling of plastic for shoe making, leather refining and scrap-trade on a large scale were rampant, had turned into a volcano that may trigger anytime and cause irrecoverable human loss, if immediate action was not taken against them. Residents of the area told APP that the illegal commercial activities in the area had made their lives difficult as they have to face unpleasant smell of chemicals being used in plastic recycling and leather’s refining coupled with a lot of noise pollution besides threat of fire incidents. They, in a written complaint to the Punjab Chief Minister and the departments concerned, have feared outbreak of various diseases and happening of big fire incidents similar as have recently occurred in Karachi and Rawat areas. “Breaking out of small fires is almost a regular feature as there is no firefighting system and emergency exit,” they added. Malik Asif Akbar, former vice chairman of the area, alleged that residential area was being used for commercial purpose in connivance with the MC staff as no one could dare to start their business without the authority’s backing. He was of the view that ‘Monthly’ (bribe) was given on regular basis to run illegal business in housing colonies to shut their mouth, close their eyes and for turning a deaf ear to the issue. He said the main gates of such factories always remain closed to hide their illegal operations, adding, “Chemicals are stored in huge quantity in their premises without taking safety measures.” Asif said there were no adequate firefighting arrangements in the premises of these factories, which were being operated without registration with any government institution like Provincial Labour Department, Civil Defence Department or Workers Welfare Board. Thus no inspection of these factories had ever been carried out by any relevant government agency. Amjad and Mumtaz, residents of the house in whose rear side a bakery, shoe factories and scrap godowns were occurred, complained that the smoke emitted from the burning of scrap material, bakery items and recycling of plastic for shoe making enter their houses from the windows of their rear side rooms due to which their children were becoming patients of asthma and sour eyes. Talking to APP, former Town Member of Rawal Town Council Shahida Shabir stressed upon the Deputy Commissioner (DC) to take immediate notice of the issue and clear the residential area of ‘lethal activities’, which had become a hub for various kind of commercial activities. She said the health-hazardous activities have polluted the environment and made the lives of its inhabitants miserable. Shahida feared breaking out of lethal diseases due to unhealthy activities, which were going on day and night there, adding “the number of asthma patients is increasing in the colony.” When contacted, no official of Municipal Corporation was available to comment on the issue, however, an official on condition of anonymity admitted mushroom growth of illegal factories in housing colonies. He said the DC had directed the departments concerned to shift the factories from residential areas to Industrial zone and ensure appropriate safety measures and installation of firefighting gadgets at all the industrial units. He rejected the allegation of taking ‘Monthly’ by any MC staff and said that all-out efforts were being made to end the commercial activities from residential areas.