Two days after a blast at a chemical factory in Ahmedabad killed 12 people, police arrested three accused including the owner of the factory, who were then sent to police remand by a court on Friday evening.
Around 11.22 am on Wednesday, a massive blast occurred at Sahil Enterprises located in the estate of Nanubhai Bharwad on the Pirana-Piplaj Road, which led to the collapse of the adjacent Kanika Texo Fab garments company godown.
A total of 12 people, employed at both Sahil Enterprises and Kanika Texo Fab, died and 10 others were injured in the blast and subsequent building collapse.
The deceased include four women and two minors.
According to police, the three accused — Hetal Sutaria, owner of Sahil Enterprises, Nanubhai Bharwad and Pradipbhai Bharwad, owners of the estate, where the accident took place — were arrested late Thursday night.
By Friday evening, Sutaria was sent to police remand till November 10, Nanubhai Bharwad till November 7 and Pradipbhai Bharwad till November 8 by a judge.
Nanubhai has been held for leasing his estate to Sutaria despite knowing that he had no permission from the government to run a chemical factory and Pradipbhai has been held for leasing his estate to Kanika Texo Fab garment company despite knowing that a chemical factory is operational right next to it.
“After an FIR was filed against the three persons under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) 284 (negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance), 285 (negligient conduct with respect to fire), 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance) 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance) 427 (mischief) 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life) 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life) and 114 (offence committed when abettor present)we arrested them late Thursday night. Around 6 pm on Friday, we presented them before a judge who sent them to police remand,” said SA Gohil, Police Inspector and incharge officer of Narol Police Station.
After the accident, the state government had announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.
The government had set up a two-member committee comprising Vipul Mittra, additional chief secretary of Labour and Employment department, and Sanjiv Kumar, chairman of Gujarat Pollution Control Board to submit an inquiry report.
The duo are supposed to table the report in front of the state government till November 13.
In a report published in The Indian Express on Friday, it was highlighted how among the 12 deceased persons, there was a 14-year-old boy employed in hazardous conditions at the chemical company and another 17-year-old girl who was employed in the garments company. As per the Child Labour Act (prohibition and regulation) Amendment Act, it is prohibited to employ adolescents aged between 14 years to 18 years in hazardous conditions.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Mittra said that the accused chemical factory owner will be booked under Child Labour Act if any negligence is found.
“There are conflicting reports about the exact age of the boy and we are waiting for the postmortem reports of the deceased for further clarity. We have also started a state wide inspection drive to check warehouses and godowns by respective municipalities to take action against those who store hazardous chemical substances without NOC,” said Mittra.
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