80% of Industrial units in Pune operating sans fire compliance - Hindustan Times
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80% of Industrial units in Pune operating sans fire compliance

ByVicky Pathare
Dec 17, 2023 06:10 AM IST

The startling details came out after these agencies began on-ground drives and the scrutiny of the documents in various industries after the factory fire tragedy at Talawade

As the death toll continues to rise in the Talwade fire incident, concerns are being raised about the lack of fire safety in industrial setups, endangering the lives of thousands of workers in the commercial sector.

Pune District is growing as an Industrial Hub which includes a variety of sectors. In the absence of precautions to prevent industrial fire accidents. (HT PHOTO)
Pune District is growing as an Industrial Hub which includes a variety of sectors. In the absence of precautions to prevent industrial fire accidents. (HT PHOTO)

According to fire departments of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations as well as Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA), at least 80% of the over 5,500 small industrial units operating in these areas are sans fire compliance and without a fire no-objection certificate (NOC).

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The startling details came out after these agencies began on-ground drives and the scrutiny of the documents in various industries after the factory fire tragedy at Talawade.

Pune District is growing as an Industrial Hub which includes a variety of sectors. In the absence of precautions to prevent industrial fire accidents, numerous minor and major incidents have been reported in the past, the officials said.

Industrial units in Kharabwadi, Khed, Chakan, Hadapsar, Pirangut, Kondhwa, Katraj, Mohammadwadi, Sanaswadi and a few more locations in Pune have thousands of industrial units, but hardly 20% have done their fire compliance, officials from PMRDA fire department said.

Meanwhile. on Saturday the death toll in the fire at a sparkling candle manufacturing unit in Talawade rose to 12, with one more fatality reported on Saturday. As per the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) officials, Suman Gondhale (40) reportedly succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at Sassoon General Hospital (SGH).

A fire incident was reported at a sparkling candle manufacturing unit located in Jyotiba Nagar at Talawade on December 8 during which six people died on the spot and ten others suffered severe burn injuries and were admitted to SGH.

As per the civic officials, more than 3,000 illegal industrial units employing over 1 lakh people have been running in the restricted areas for the past 30 to 40 years in PCMC jurisdiction. Following the incident, civic authorities launched a survey to identify 75,000 commercial establishments and covered 45,000 and found that over 90% flout safety norms.

In a similar incident earlier in June 2021, eighteen people died and two were severely injured in a fire incident reported at SVS Aqua Technologies in Pirangut. The recent incident at Talwade has again raised questions about the safety of employees at the units and fire compliance by the units. In industries, the risk is not limited to the boundaries of industrial premises but can potentially spread beyond their confines. Therefore, there is a need for effective fire compliance and disaster management plans that can help minimise property damage and loss of life, the Fire Brigade officials said.

Devendra Potphode, chief fire officer of PMC and PMRDA, said that calls regarding fire accidents in industrial units are less but the fatalities are more when the fire outbreaks are reported in industrial units.

“Only less than 20 per cent of the industrial units operating in PMC and PMRDA limits have done their fire compliance. Now when the industrial units are coming forward for regularisation, we have come across several serious laxities in terms of fire compliance in these units,” he said.

The PMC and PMRDA fire department during regularisation have made it mandatory for the unit to fire compliance. The drives have started to regularise and conduct fire compliances of unorganized industrial units in Pune and PMRDA jurisdiction. Not all but most of the units have started doing the compliance post the recent fire incident reported in Talawade, the officials said.

Potphode, said, that industrial units should mandatorily keep marginal open spaces but hardly a few follow them. In the absence of these open spaces, fire vehicles cannot move freely during fire accidents.

“This also poses a risk of fire spreading to the neighbouring unit. Even if one has an industrial unit which is not hazardous but having no marginal open space and sharing the boundary with another hazardous unit is a threat,” he said.

As per the officials, PMRDA is a recent organisation and due to this the industries set up in its limits have old approvals from the Gram Panchayat or district administration. During this time fire safety and compliance were neglected by the industries and authorities. In Pune city there are several units around 500, mostly unorganized operating sans fire compliances, they said.

Potphode, further informed, that in the existing units that have come forward for regularisation, we have found their firefighting systems installed are too old and outdated. This system will be of hardly any help during fire outbreaks.

“The installed firefighting equipment is of poor quality and is being installed just for the sake of saving money. No training is provided to the industrial workers about what has to be done during fire outbreaks. In the absence of training, workers are unaware of how to use the firefighting equipment installed at their unit,” he said.

As per the Fire Brigade officials, the management should inform their employees about the risks involved while working in the unit. The employees should be informed to follow minimum safety parameters while working.

Devendra Fadnavis, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra after the fire incident at Talawade said, a survey has been undertaken at the accident site.

“Measures will be taken to impose restrictions on dangerous industries. CCTVs are being installed in such dangerous places and restrictions will be placed on illegal activities in and around the companies.”

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