Three workers of a foam factory in Ugoke village of Barnala district died, while goods worth crores reportedly turned to ashes in a massive fire Wednesday. The fire broke around 9.30 am and was still being doused by fire tenders from Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda and Sangrur till the time of filing this report.
Multiple blasts of LPG cylinders increased the fire and resulted in death of the three workers — Jagjeet Singh (24) of Gill Kothe village, Sikander Singh (25) and Sadhu Singh (27) of Cheema — who were having food at the time. There were nearly 70 more workers in the factory at the time and were evacuated safely. The factory has more than 200 workers who work in two shifts.
Sources revealed the factory does not have any No-objection Certificate (NoC) from fire brigade department and it was operating for a long time in this area.
Gurjeet Singh, additional district fire officer of Barnala, said the factory had no fire-fighting arrangements. “Even they had not taken any NoC from the fire department. We have got to know that even in the past minor fire incidents were reported inside the unit and managed by the owners themselves,” he said.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sought a detailed report from the Barnala Deputy Commissioner (DC) into the incident.
The Chief Minister has also announced ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased. Captain Singh has expressed anguish over the mishap in the industrial godown at Ugoke in Tapa subdivision and has extended his sympathies to the families of the victims.
Barnala Deputy Commissioner Dharampal Gupta said the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) was inquiring into this matter. “So far we have got details about three casualties and inquiry is being done to find out if more persons are missing,” said the DC, adding that flaws, if any in this factory, will be found out by the Barnala SDM in his inquiry.
Later in the evening, the family members of the deceased protested outside the factory, demanding compensation from the owners. They also demanded police action against the owners.
Ravinder Singh, sarpanch of Cheema village, said they demand the closure of this factory. “All the persons who have died were from extremely poor families and were working here for Rs 200 per day wages. We demand one job per family as there is no source of income for them now,” he said.
SSP Harjeet Singh said they will take action as per law against the owner.