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Ludhiana factory collapse: MC ordered demolition of illegal structure last year, but nothing happened, says official

The civic body allegedly succumbed to political pressure in not taking any action against the factory even though it had issued a challan for the said illegality.

punjab Updated: Dec 09, 2017 09:19 IST
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Ludhiana factory collapse:,Ludhiana municipal corporation,municipal corporation
On November 20, the five-storey factory had caught a massive fire, leading to its collapse. In the rescue operation that lasted six days, 13 bodies were recovered from the debris while those of three firemen could not be retrieved.(HT File)

The Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) had in May 2016 ordered demolition of three illegal storeys of the plastic factory that collapsed last month, claiming the lives of 16 people, including nine fire officials.

This was revealed by the then building inspector, Pradeep Mittar Sehgal, in his statement before the inquiry officer probing the incident, sources told HT.

Besides, he said a challan of Rs 10.45 lakh was also slapped onto the owner of the factory for constructing the illegal structure in 2015.

“Neither was the illegal structure demolished nor was the fine executed due to alleged political influence exercised by an official, who incidentally died in the collapse,” he added.

The civic body allegedly succumbed to political pressure in not taking any action against the factory even though it had issued a challan for the said illegality.

Sources said Sehgal, who is now assistant town planner, told the inquiry officer that in his capacity as then building inspector, a notice was issued to Gola Plastic Factory on May 27, 2015 for constructing three illegal storeys.

The compounding of the building was done and a fine of Rs 10.45 lakh was slapped on to the owner, Inderjit Singh Gola, who is now in judicial custody after being booked in a culpable homicide case. The condition imposed with the fine was that if the owner fails to deposit the challan, the illegal construction would be demolished.

The officials also stated that the then Pathankot MC chief sanitary inspector Laxman Dravid, who was also the leader of various unions, used his influence to stall execution of the challan and demolition of the illegal structure. Earlier deputed with Ludhiana MC, Dravid, who was associated with several SAD and BJP leaders, was transferred to Pathankot after the Congress government came to power in February 2017.

“The demolition order was issued on May 6, 2016 after I was transferred. Neither could the fee be deposited nor could the challan be executed as Laxman Dravid used his influence,” Sehgal said in his statement. 

On November 20, the five-storey factory had caught a massive fire, leading to its collapse. In the rescue operation that lasted six days, 13 bodies were recovered from the debris while those of three firemen could not be retrieved.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the building collapsed as not only its foundation was weak, but there were also engineering defects in the structures at the three illegal floors of the building.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had marked an inquiry into the building collapse to be conducted by the Patiala divisional commissioner VK Meena.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 09:19 IST