The Bengaluru City Police has arrested three persons in connection with the massive fire that broke out at a chemical factory in Bapuji Nagar in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
According to the police, the accused, Sajjanraj (66), his wife Kamala Sajjanraj (60), and their son Anil Kumar (30), were arrested from their house in Shankarpuram on Wednesday. “While Sajjanraj is the registered owner of Rekha Chemical Industries, Kamala owns Rekha Chemicals Corporation and Anil managed the business,” the police added.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Sanjeev M Patil said that the family had a license to operate two factories in the Bommasandra Industrial Area but no permission to store chemical barrels in the godown where the incident took place. “The accused had not taken permission from the BBMP, Fire and Emergency Services or from the Pollution Control Board,” Patil said.
Patil also said that the fire broke out when the accused was trying to prepare an order for Crescent Chemical Industries at Lingarajapuram on Tuesday.
“While each barrel was supposed to weigh 85 kilograms each, one weighed less. Knowing this, Sajjanraj asked Biju Singh, an employee, to transfer isopropyl alcohol from another barrel. This got exposed to sunlight, causing fire due to the static charge,” a senior official said.
Meanwhile, two FIRs have been registered at Byatarayanapura police station against the accused based on complaints filed by others, including a plastic godown owner, who incurred several damages. Ayaz, the owner of the adjacent godown, has claimed losses estimated at Rs 45 lakh.
Health minister visits incident site, promises action
Health and Medical Education Minister Sudhakar K Thursday said that legal action will be initiated against the culprits, including erring officials of the concerned departments for clearing the godown in Bapuji Nagar to store chemicals.
After inspecting the godown at New Guddadahalli from where the fire broke out on Tuesday, the minister said that primary investigation has indicated that huge quantity of chemicals including sanitizers were being stored in the godown without permission.
“Alcohol-related chemicals were also there. One needs to obtain permission from the Drug Controller under the health department to store sanitizer. Action will be taken against the culprits. Action will also be initiated against the erring officials too if found guilty,” Sudhakar said.
The minister further said that compensation will be given to families affected by the fire in the residential area based on the report submitted by the jurisdictional BBMP Joint Commissioner. “Compensation will be provided based on the report submitted assessing the quantum of damage. The same will be discussed with the Chief Minister as well,” he added.
Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who visited the site on Wednesday also ordered an inquiry to check how officials gave permission for a warehouse to operate from a residential area. “The probe will check whether there was any lapse from officials responsible for issuing license/permission for the godown to operate from here. I have also directed the police to check for similar units running illegally in the city,” he said.
Meanwhile, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said that losses incurred to houses and vehicles in the surrounding area will be recovered from the accused. “A report will be submitted by the Joint Commissioner to the government after assessing the damage suggesting compensation to owners of private properties possibly under a provision in the Disaster Management Act,” he said.
The fire which broke out around after 11 am on Tuesday had continued for nearly eight hours during which over 200 fire services personnel made efforts to bring the flames under control, leaving residents in panic.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines