A day after 17 staff, most of them ladies, had been killed in a hearth at a chemical plant in Pune district, an inquiry committee mentioned on Tuesday that a big inventory of sanitisers saved with inflammable supplies might have aggravated the fireplace.
The police, in the meantime, have registered a case of culpable murder towards one of many house owners of the agency, alleging “gross negligence”, and arrested him late at night time.
A case was registered towards Nikunj Shah, one of many house owners of SVS Aqua Applied sciences, beneath related part of the Indian Penal Code for “culpable murder not amounting to homicide”, mentioned Abhinav Deshmukh, Superintendent of Police (SP), Pune rural. Shah was questioned and later put beneath arrest.
The case was registered following an inquiry report submitted by a committee headed by Sub-divisional Justice of the Peace (SDM) Sandesh Shirke, the SP mentioned.
The preliminary probe confirmed that the corporate had not adopted hearth security norms and constructing permission guidelines, he mentioned.
There have been no emergency exit doorways and open areas (the place folks can take refuge in case of fireplace), Mr Deshmukh alleged.
In accordance with a few of the staff, the doorways of the part the place the fireplace began received locked, and the native folks had to make use of JCB machines to interrupt down the partitions to rescue these inside.
“In a nutshell, the corporate officers didn’t take needed precautions regardless of understanding that the supplies they had been utilizing had been flamable,” Mr Deshmukh mentioned.
Requested about the reason for the fireplace, he mentioned the fabric used within the manufacturing of chlorine dioxide (used for water purification) is flamable, and warmth as a result of friction or a spark may need acted as set off.
“However at this juncture, gross negligence on the a part of the agency is being seen, and on that foundation, an offence has been registered,” he added.
Requested if the corporate manufactured sanitisers, Abhinav Deshmukh mentioned it didn’t appear so. A small amount of sanitisers was discovered however it may very well be for the use by the workers, he mentioned.
Some locals had alleged that the corporate was additionally making sanitisers — that are inflammable — with no license.
One other official later mentioned that sanitisers appeared to have performed a task within the tragedy. The agency apparently used to supply sanitiser liquid from exterior, repackage it, and promote it, he mentioned.
“We’ve discovered round 20,000 to 30,000 bottles of sanitisers within the stock. Comparable half-burnt bottles had been discovered on the fire-ravaged spot,” mentioned Abhay Chavam, tehsildar, Mulshi.
Sanitisers weren’t produced on the plant as no uncooked materials and equipment wanted for that was discovered, he added.
There was additionally a chance that the uncooked materials used for making chlorine dioxide got here involved with sanitisers, saved in the identical place, and led to explosions, he mentioned.
“Within the first 5 minutes, two huge explosions befell and later the fireplace unfold quickly in every single place and it’s attainable solely after some extremely inflammable materials got here involved with the fireplace,” he mentioned.
One other district official, requesting anonymity, mentioned that the inquiry committee report identified that sanitiser aggravated the fireplace whereas the darkish smoke attributable to sodium chloride made it tough for the victims to discover a approach out.
Inflammable uncooked materials was saved in the identical place the place the precise work befell, he mentioned.
The report additionally famous that the agency didn’t have the required no objection certificates from the fireplace division and there was no firefighting mechanism or gear on the plant
Mr Deshmukh, in the meantime, mentioned the demise depend was 17. SDM Shirke had earlier put the demise depend at 18.
In accordance with the corporate officers too, there have been 17 staff contained in the part when the fireplace began round 3.30 pm on Monday.
Because the our bodies had been charred past recognition, blood samples of relations have been taken for DNA matching to determine these killed, Mr Deshmukh mentioned.
To hurry up the process, samples are being despatched to an Aurangabad laboratory in addition to the Pune one, he mentioned.
The identification course of is anticipated to be accomplished in 4 days, he added.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had mentioned an inquiry shall be carried out and a compensation of Rs 5 lakh every shall be given to the households of the victims.