Fire in unregistered bag factory

The deadly fire at dawn on Sunday that swept through an unregistered bag factory in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area killing 43 workers is a shocking reminder that for every big industrial unit showcased as evidence of an emerging power, there are scores of Dickensian ratholes in which workers toil under crushing, dangerous conditions.

Neither the Delhi government nor the Centre, which has control of law and order in the national capital, can pretend to be surprised at the many casualties. It is well known that poorly paid labourers live and work in several residential buildings turned into unregistered factories, and those who died due to suffocation or burn injuries were no different.

Most of them came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and virtually slept at night next to the machines they worked on. If it is confirmed by a probe that the victims were locked in and obstructed by materials stacked on staircases, the culpability of those responsible would be enormously higher. A small consolation is the rescue of several people given the narrow approach to the stricken building, and a mass of tangled wires. The building’s owner and the manager have been arrested to mollify public anger, but administrative agencies cannot escape responsibility for allowing the factory and other such units to function illegally, without safety audits.

Source: The Hindu

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