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Safety has always been a major concern for the Chakan Talegaon industrial zone and the recent incident of fire has brought to fore the need to put adequate measures in place.
Residents and industry workers have constantly highlighted the absence of a proper fire station in the region and the alleged apathy of higher authorities when posed this question aggravates the problem.
A cotton recycling unit in the Nanekarvadi area of Chakan had caught fire on Thursday which had resulted in the death of five people. Earlier, this year series of scrap units had caught fire in Chikali which raged on for 24 hours destroying property worth crores. Similarly, the fire in a chemical unit just outside the Chakan industrial area had damaged property and injured workers a few years ago.
While the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) is responsible for the units in their jurisdiction, local bodies like zilla parishad, gram panchayat and the corporation are responsible for units in their areas. Anant Sardeshmukh, director general of the Mahratta Chambers of Industries, Commerce and Agriculture (MCCIA), said this causes problems as many local bodies do not have adequate infrastructure to check such units.
Units dealing in scrap material and small chemical units often function without licenses and do not adhere to fire safety norms. To compound the problem, the industrial unit apparently does not have a fire station. Sardeshmukh said that there were talks of a separate fire station for the Chakan-Talegaon industrial belt, but the progress of the same has been slow. “In case of industrial fire, often the companies themselves have to send out fire tenders to control it,” he said. The Chamber has taken up the matter with authorities but progress has been little.
Nitin Bankar, former president of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Small and Medium Industries Association, said the government is not serious about tackling the issue. “We had asked for a separate scrap hub to house such units but it has not taken off. The officers do not communicate with us to help and solve the problem,” he said.