THE building block in the premises of the Ammunition Factory, Khadki, where an accidental explosion claimed the lives of two workers on Thursday, had been deemed unfit for use over 10 years ago. However, after some passable repairs, it was still being used as a magazine to store explosives. It has now come to light that the accident took place when the workers were moving the explosives out of the building, before an upcoming central safety audit.
The blast took place in building block number 171, located in F2 section of the factory, which manufactures and stores fuses. An officer from the factory, on condition of anonymity, told Pune Newsline, “The building block is currently being used a magazine to store fuses and detonators. Over 10 years ago, this block was deemed unfit for use because of its dilapidated condition. But the administration continued using it after some passable repairs.”
The officer added, “Next week, there is a scheduled central safety audit… so, the explosives were being moved out of the building, and that’s when the incident took place. There are also serious question marks over whether all the safety guidelines were adhered to in this case. This is not the first time when we have lost precious lives. We have to put in place much more rigorous safety measures in the future… the inquiries conducted by the authorities are always a sham and nothing really comes out of it.”
At the AFK, the manufacturing takes place in two sections — the explosives are handled and filled into empty cases in the Danger Building, while the cases are moulded in the Non Danger Building before being sent to the Danger Building. Pune Newsline has reported in detail in the past about the disproportionate number of workers in these two sections. The number of man hours, to be put in at individual buildings per year, are calculated as per the requirement.
According to the latest figures, the requirement of Danger Building man hours is around 38 lakh for one year, while that of the Non Danger Building is around 24 lakh man hours. In spite of this proportion, the number of Danger Building workers is 1,400, while the Non Danger Building has a much higher number of workers — 4,100. The workers’ unions have raised their voice against this situation. They have also demanded rigorous safety measures, but the administration has not taken any steps in this direction.