Chandigarh: Fire safety norms go for a toss at work sites in industrial area | punjab | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh: Fire safety norms go for a toss at work sites in industrial area

One in two factories lacks fire exit; loose electric wiring a major threat to lives.

punjab Updated: Oct 08, 2017 12:08 IST
Hillary Victor 
Hillary Victor 
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Scrap dealers along a road in Phase 1, Industrial Area. The station fire officer admits to have never written to the UT estate office, seeking their removal
Scrap dealers along a road in Phase 1, Industrial Area. The station fire officer admits to have never written to the UT estate office, seeking their removal(HT Photo)

The fire incident at the Devdarshan Dhoop factory in Phase 2 of Industrial Area on Friday has brought to the fore the major non-compliance with the fire safety standards by the industrial units operating in the area.

During a visit to the Industrial Area on Saturday, HT found several factories in Phase 1 and 2 flouting even the basic safety norms (see box) laid by the ministry of labour and employment. Despite notices issued by the fire department to the factories here over the past five years, no concrete action has taken place so far.

There are around 2,500 industrial units in the area where more than 50,000 workers are employed.

The Industrial Safety and Health Act states that all workers should wear aprons, safety shoes, gloves, helmets and masks during their working hours.

However, during the visit, no workers were found following these guidelines.

Even the storage of combustible material is not allowed at the entrance, whereas, in Devdarshan Dhoop factory, it was stored at the entrance only and same was the situation at other units.

On Friday, 28 workers, mostly women, had to be hospitalised after fire broke out at an incense factory. The workers were trapped inside as there was no emergency exit.

Only 4 buildings sealed in last 8 yrs

Surprisingly, in the past eight years, the municipal corporation’s fire department has only sealed four buildings, one in Sector 34, one in Sector 17 and rest in the Industrial Area.

As per the act, after issuing three notices, MC is supposed to seal the building. But here, even the fire audits are not done on regular basis.

In Phase 1, there are around 10 scrap dealers illegally operating on the road, just 50 metres away from the fire station. The department, however, has never written to the UT estate office for their removal.

Speaking to HT, SK Gosain, station fire officer of Phase 1, Industrial Area, admitted that they have never written to the administration seeking removal of these scrap dealers. “We verbally directed the dealers to shift but they did not obey. As far as notices are concerned, we do issue them, but very few comply with them,” he said.

On action, Gosain said, “We have not sealed any building in the past several years.”

Meanwhile, Phase-2 station fire officer Baljinder Singh said, “I have joined only two months back and do not remember of any audit taking place during my tenure here. But I will write to the department for the audit of these units.”

3 months on, no action on Sec-17 buildings

On July 10, fire department had issued notices to the officers concerned of government buildings in Sector 17 — including the MC building, UT deputy commissioner’s office and buildings of the registration and licensing authority and UT food and supplies department — for glaring violations of fire safety norms. But nothing has been done so far. All these buildings house offices which directly deal with the public and witness a huge footfall daily.