The state government has placed under suspension a deputy director of factories for alleged dereliction of duty after the blast in a Khanna factory on Tuesday led to the death of 10 workers.
Labour minister Surjit Kumar Jayani, who visited the factory on Friday, said it had been revealed that the deputy director, factories, Jatinder Singh Bhatti, who was responsible for inspecting the factory, had failed to do so. The factory was last inspected in 2005.
"The deputy director has been put under suspension and a departmental inquiry initiated against him by a team of two deputy directors, factories. The team will submit the report in 10 days," he said.
However, on the two posts of deputy director, factories (chemicals), who were responsible for inspecting solvent plants, lying vacant, Jyani said the department was facing a shortage of employees and he had apprised chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of the situation, following which nine more posts of deputy director had been sanctioned.
"Though the two posts were lying vacant, Bhatti was supposed to inspect the factory, which he failed to do," he said. Ram Chet Gaur, member, Parvasi Bhalai Board, during Jyani's visit, had demanded action against the deputy director.
Bhatti, when contacted, said he had assumed the charge of deputy director, factories, of circle 7 in which the Khanna factory fell, in January this year. "For the past three months, I had the charge of four circles, comprising around 2,500 factories. In July, I had written to the department to relieve me of the charge of other circles, but it didn't happen," he said.
Sources said that in a circle under a deputy director, there were about 500 to 600 factories. Normally, about 150 factories were inspected a year, which meant that if a factory was inspected this year, it would again be inspected after four years, which was a long period and could lead to serious shortcomings in the unit.
Meanwhile, another worker succumbed to his injuries on Saturday, taking the toll in the blast to 10. Govind, 27, was a native of Uttar Pradesh. He was the son of Bhagirath, another victim of the factory fire, whose body was recovered from the factory premises after the blast.
The administration has also decided to cremate Bhagirath's body as nobody had claimed it even after more than 72 hours.
SDM Purshotam Singh Sodhi, who is holding an inquiry into the blast, said he was waiting for findings from various departments to final the report.