Moti Nagar collapse:Furnace was assembled locally, didn’t meet norms
“The factory owners did not purchase standard machines usually used at units that manufacture ceiling fans. Instead, they used jugaad to get the machines assembled locally. Use of such machines was always unsafe,” said Monika Bhardwaj, deputy commissioner of policedelhi Updated: Jan 06, 2019 14:06 IST
Overuse of machines locally assembled through crude means was one of the possible reasons behind the blast at a Moti Nagar factory where seven people died on January 3, police said on Saturday after interrogating a co-owner of the illegal unit.
Sumit Gupta, the co-owner of the factory where seven people were killed, was arrested from Delhi early on Saturday. His business partner Ankit Gupta, who suffered more than 50% burns in the blast, battles for his life at Safdarjung Hospital.
“The factory owners did not purchase standard machines usually used at units that manufacture ceiling fans. Instead, they used jugaad to get the machines assembled locally. Use of such machines was always unsafe,” said Monika Bhardwaj, deputy commissioner of police (west).
The DCP said the unsafe machines included a furnace that is believed to have exploded after overuse, triggering the fatal collapse of the three-storey structure on Thursday night. The crude machines were used to cut production cost, Sumit allegedly told his interrogators.
On Friday, relatives of a few victims alleged the factory owners had decided to step up production of fans in view of the approaching summer season, without caring about the safety of the workers or the capacity of the machines.
The workers were allegedly required to put in twice the number of hours compared to normal working time, they alleged.
Police said while Ankit was near the furnace at the time of the blast, his partner Sumit was out for some work. Sumit allegedly visited Ankit at Safdarjung Hospital on Friday, but slipped away in view of the police hunt.
“Since very little of the business was on paper, Sumit tried to escape responsibility by claiming he was not a partner. But we spoke to the injured and surviving workers of the factory before concluding that Sumit was a co-owner,” said DCP Bhardwaj.
Sumit and Ankit have been booked under the Indian Penal Code section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) that can land them in jail for up to 10 years if convicted.
The initial case was registered under section 304A (causing death due to negligence). “We needed to confirm if the factory was operating illegally. It was found to be functioning from a residential neighbourhood,” said an officer.
Other IPC sections in the FIR are 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery), 288 (negligent conduct with respect to pulling down or repairing buildings) and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).
While most of the eight surviving victims are out of danger, owner Ankit Gupta and a woman employee, Manju, are critical, police said. Manju, 38, lost her husband and six-year-old son in the mishap.
The factory was functioning for the last six years out of a rented three-storey house in the narrow by lanes of Basai Darapur in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar.
First Published: Jan 06, 2019 14:06 IST