Batala firecracker unit was running illegally since 2016: Police
A day after the blast at a firecracker-manufacturing unit in Batala that killed 23 people and injured 27, police on Thursday said the unit was running illegally from the residential area as its licence had expired in 2016. The unit was functional for the last 30 years, it is learnt.
The administration has identified 21 of the 23 bodies.
Sources in the civil administration said when a blast occurred at the same factory in 2017, the administration sealed the factory and a case was registered against the owner. How the unit was still operating from the same premises is a matter of investigation, said an official on condition of anonymity.
Inspector general (border range) of police Surinderpal Singh Parmar said, “The factory had licence till 2016. It was not renewed. Since then, it was running illegally. Necessary action will be taken once the magisterial probe is over.”
Batala SDM Balbir Raj Singh said, “It’s a residential area and these kind of factories can’t operate from there. We will definitely hold a thorough inquiry and take strict action against the guilty.”
Punjab's joint director of factories Kashmir Singh said, “Areas where factories can be set up are clearly earmarked. No such unit can be run in from a residential area."
Deputy superintendent of police BL Singla said, “It was not an intelligence failure of the police. There are regulatory and licensing agencies which are supposed to check this kind of malpractices.”
"The government will not spare the officials found guilty of dereliction of duty in the probe," said cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.
"It is failure of the administration as one person was killed in a blast at the same factory in 2017. Laxity of the administration led to this tragedy. There is an unholy nexus between factory owners and the officials concerned. The administration also ignored the concerns raised by the neighbours and management of a school,” said Batala MLA Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal.