June 9, 2021 9:51:39 pm
The Pune Rural police, who are investigating the fire at a chemical factory that killed 17 workers on Monday, have told a local court that they are probing the alleged illegal sanitiser stock in the factory among several other violations of norms that could have led to the blaze and loss of life. Meanwhile, the court has remanded Nikunj Shah (39), one of the owners of the company, to police custody till June 13.
The fire was reported around 3.30 pm on Monday in the building of SVS Aqua Technologies, a company manufacturing water purification chemicals, located in Urawade, near Pirangut in Mulshi taluka of Pune district. Seventeen persons, including 15 women, were killed and four persons including one woman were injured in the fire.
An inquiry committee constituted by the Pune district administration found multiple safety norm violations at the factory, the main being large stocks of alcohol-based sanitiser which the company allegedly had no permits for. Police had on Tuesday arrested Nikunj Shah and also booked his father Bipin Shah (68) and brother Keyur Shah (41), who is said to be abroad at present. All three have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to culpable homicide.
Shah was produced before a magistrate court in Pune on Wednesday, where the investigation officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Sai Bhore Patil, sought his custodial remand for further interrogation. After hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defence counsels, the court remanded Shah to police custody till June 13.
In her report to court, Patil said, “In spite of the knowledge that the unauthorised large stocks of sanitiser could lead to fire and loss of life, the accused have done so without any safety measures. We want to probe production activity related to sanitiser and other inflammable chemicals. We want to probe from where the sanitiser was being brought and where it was sold.”
The report goes on to list several other reasons including probe into whether the company had specific clearances, permits etc for various ongoing activities on the premises.
One of the key findings of the inquiry committee was that inflammable chemicals were stored at the same place where the employees worked, and this may have caused loss of lives.
Meanwhile, the families of the victims are still waiting for the bodies to be handed over to them. On Tuesday, samples were collected from the immediate family members, and also from the victims, for DNA analysis to be done for identification as the deceased were charred beyond recognition.
Pune Rural Police’s Superintendent Abhinav Deshmukh said, “The process of forensic DNA analysis takes three to four days. Bodies will be handed over after getting the results and once the identity of each of the bodies is established.”
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