18 Workers Including 15 Women Die in a Chemical Factory Fire in Pune

In the last few years, the frequency of this kind of industrial accident has increased as a result of the 'ease of business' policies that value profit over lives of workers.

workers
Image Source: NDTV

In a fire that broke after explosions in a private chemical manufacturing plant in Mulshi taluk in Pune, at least 18 workers were killed on Monday. Out of the dead workers, 15 were women, Workers Unity reported.

According to the police, the fire broke at around 4 pm with 37 workers working inside the plant. Only 19 workers from the lot were able to escape the fire but many sustained severe injuries. Meanwhile, the dead bodies which were recovered from inside were charred beyond recognition, a fire department official said. The bodies were then taken to the Sassoon General Hospital for post-mortem and identification through DNA testing, The Hindu reported.

The SVS Aqua Technologies is a private company located on the outskirts of Pune which is known to be involved in the manufacturing of water purifiers that involves the use of Chlorine Dioxide. Some sources have also reported that the factory also manufactured sanitizers.

Read More: Factory blast in Gujarat exposes Govt cruelty towards workers

Devendra Potphode, the Chief Fire Officer has said that the causes of the fire were not identified yet but the locals informed the authorities that the factory caught fire after an explosion was heard. In the rescue work done by the fire department workers, the wall of the plant had to be broken using a JCB. The company uses a lot of chemicals in its manufacturing process but provisions for fire safety given the high chemical use are still not known.

An ex gratia amount of Rs.5 lakh for the kin of the deceased has been announced by the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra who is also the Guardian Minister of Pune, Ajit Pawar. A compensation of Rs.2 lakh for the kin of the deceased workers and Rs. 50,000 for the injured has been announced by the Central government.

Can These Deaths of Workers be Termed as Accidents?

In the last few years, the frequency of this kind of industrial accident has increased as a result of the ‘ease of business’ that most corporate lords have been rewarded by the political elites. These companies have been given a free hand in functioning and the State rarely audits if there are required safety provisions for the workers. The majority of these industrial accidents which become deadly for the workers could have been very well avoided but these private companies, to cut their production costs, rarely invest financial capital in servicing the machines, boilers, etc used in the factories.

The labour codes introduced by the BJP ruled Central Government with its corporate-centered provisions focus only on catering to the wealth accumulation processes of the industrialists and entirely relives them of accountability and their responsibility to maintain safety provisions and regularly check and repair factory equipment.

Workers, farmers along with civil society all around the country have protested against these codes.

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