Cases of "accidental fires" at industrial units as well as other commercial establishments have come under scanner of the Ludhiana fire wing with reports that many of these fires were not caused due to short circuit, but were a handiwork of owners of the factories.
Whenever there is a case of fire in an industrial or a commercial unit, claims of a "short circuit" pour in. However, suspicions have been raised regarding the authenticity of these fires that broke out in factories and other commercial establishments.
Even the officials of fire wing claimed that several fires at factories and elsewhere are a handiwork of insiders or known persons and are not due to short circuit
Bhupinder Singh, chief, Ludhiana fire wing, said, "There have been many cases of fire in industrial units that were not due to short circuit."
As per an official document available with the HT, since 2003 at least 8,000 cases of fire have been reported in Ludhiana that included mostly industrial units. With the fire wing officials accepting that many cases in which fire was artificially ignited in the unit, a suspicion on claiming of insurance by the factory owners has come to the light.
"The fire wing of Ludhiana holds an investigation at the spot that is burnt due to fire after which the actual cause of fire is brought out. In some cases even FIRs have been registered against those who themselves put factories and other commercial establishments afire," Singh said.
This year 281 cases of fire in factories and other commercial establishments have taken place so far. A case in which a factory on Gill Road was burnt to ashes last year was found to be suspicious and the fire wing reported the matter with the police that also registered an FIR in the case.
There are many industrial units that were defaulters as per the bank records. Sources say units that have taken heavy loans from the banks and are not able to pay it, are mostly gutted in fire to get the insured sum of amount.
Industry insiders claimed that outdated machinery that is mortgaged with the banks and are insured is also burnt in some cases just to get insured sum of amount.
As per the official data, a total of 1,098 cases of fire were reported in 2010, 580 in 2011, 320 in 2012, 978 in 2013, 580 in 2014 and 281 so far this year.