Seven workers died in a fire that erupted in a denim factory located on Narol-Pinara road of Ahmedabad on Saturday night even as 55 fire tenders battled the flames for 22 hours till 5 pm on Sunday. Five bodies were recovered on Saturday and two more by Sunday afternoon from the building of Nandan Denim, police said.
On Sunday, police arrested the director, general manager and fire safety officer of Nandan Denim, while the state government issued closure notice to the factory. Six persons, including the owner and managing director of Chiripal Group, the parent group and a leading manufacturer of denim fabric in the country, have been booked for culpable homicide and negligence.
According to police and fire safety department, the fire started around 6.30 pm at the “shirting” department of the two-storey factory where over 60 labourers were present on the first floor. While many labourers managed to escape, a few were stranded on the first floor where there was no ventilation, they said.
“More than 55 fire tenders reached the spot and it took us around 22 hours to douse the fire. The factory premises were filled with denim, other fabrics and machinery, all of which caught fire. The victims were present on the first floor of the factory. We don’t know the exact cause of the fire and FSL reports are awaited,” said Rajesh Bhatt, additional chief fire officer, Ahmedabad.
The cause of the fire is not yet known and teams from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) have collected samples for test, they said.
Preliminary probe revealed that the factory had just one door for entry and exit on the first floor, which was accessible with a single ladder, and had no fire safety measures in place, police said.
The Director of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) that functions under the labour and employment department of the state government issued closure notice to the factory after the bodies of workers were recovered from the facility, stated an official release here on Sunday.
“We have issued a closure order to the facility so that more lives are not put at risk. We will review the safety aspects before allowing resumption of manufacturing operations,” said Vipul Mittra, additional chief secretary, Labour and Employment Department.
The official said that Nandan Denim will pay an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased workers and will provide a job to one family member of each of the deceased workers, based on their qualifications.
The deceased are Arvind Desai (36), resident of Nikol in Ahmedabad, Raunak Ben Rawal (38), from Kalol in Gandhinagar, Kunjalben Tiwari (45), from Araria in Bihar, Ganesh Patel (46), resident of Vastral in Ahmedabad, Lala Makwana (46) resident of Ahmedabad, Govind Singh Kushwaha (22), resident of Narol in Ahmedabad and Sumitra Patel (47), from Amraiwadi in Ahmedabad.
The bodies were charred beyond recognition and were sent to VS Hospital for postmortem. “We received the bodies on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Postmortem reports are awaited,” said Dr Kaushik Behda, incharge resident medical officer, VS Hospital.
Taking cognisance of the complaint filed by the victims’ family members, police booked Chiripal Group managing director, Jyoti Chiripal; Chief Executive officer, Deepak Chiripal; Head of Shirting Department, BC Patel; deputy general manager, HM Patel; Director, PK Sharma, and Fire Safety Officer, Ravikant Sinha.
“We are questioning them regarding the series of events which led to fire accident at the factory. Further action will be taken as per procedure,” said HV Sisara, in charge of Vatva police station.
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