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Alipur Fire Incident: Fire Due to Negligence Claimed 11 Lives

Mukund Jha |
How do such illegal factories continue to operate in residential areas and narrow streets, disregarding rules and safety standards?
How do such illegal factories continue to operate in residential areas and narrow streets, disregarding rules and safety standards?

Another factory accident took place in Delhi, in which 11 people lost their lives. The incident happened in Alipur in North Delhi, where an illegal paint factory was functioning in a residential area. A fire broke out in the factory on Thursday, February 15, allegedly due to a spark from welding. The fire became so severe within a short time that nearby shops and houses were also affected.

This is not the first such case in Delhi. Even before this, many such fatal accidents have happened, but despite this, illegal factories operate like this in residential areas and narrow streets, disregarding the rules and safety standards. 


Most of those who died in the Alipur Paint factory accident were poor workers. Although the name of one factory owner, Ashok Jain, is among these 11 dead, the remaining 10 were labourers working there. Among these 10 workers, seven had regular jobs in this factory, while three were workers who had come to the factory on daily wages to do' rack fitting' work.

So far, nine people have been identified among those who lost their lives in the factory accident - Ram Surat (44), Pankaj (40), Vishal (18), Anil Thakur (46), Ashok Jain (62), Shubham (19), Ram Pravesh (19), Brij Kishore (19) and Meera (44).

The family of the factory owner came to collect his mortal remains. The family refused to comment on this entire incident.

Rajesh, the elder brother of Pravesh, who lost his life in the factory accident, was desperately waiting for his brother's body to be found. 19-year-old Pravesh was a resident of Samastipur in Bihar and had come to Delhi in search of work. Rajesh is 26 years old and works as a labourer in a factory in Bawana, where he gets only Rs 12,000. 

Remembering his brother, he says, "We were just talking about his marriage." Rajesh said that his brother started working in the factory around two years ago and was making Rs 8,000. 


"Both of us brothers were somehow running our family by working as labourers. Our father has already passed away, and our mother remains ill. My brother left me; now I am alone."

Lack of Safety Measures, Gloves, Masks

Madan Thakur, who reached the hospital to collect the body of his younger brother, 46 -46-year-old Anil Thakur, said, "My brother was working in this factory for many years, and in this accident, our whole world has been destroyed. Who will look after his family now ?" He said that Anil Thakur's family consists of three children and his wife, and they live in Kirari. 

"We are daily wage earners. We came to Delhi from Muzaffarpur in Bihar several decades ago for employment because we did not have enough land to do farming. By working as labourers in Delhi, we were supporting the families."


Amit, a member of Anil Thakur's family, told NewsClick that the factory had no regard for safety. 

"Even gloves and masks were not given to them while working in the factory, which caused eye and respiratory problems to the workers."

Vishal, 18, was also a victim of the incident. He had gone to do rack fitting work in the factory. He had no relatives in Delhi and hailed from UP's Azamgarh. 

His brother-in-law, who rushed to the hospital, showed Vishal's picture and said that he had turned 18 one and a half months ago. 

Vishal's brother-in-law said that they used to do arm-roasting work in the village. His family members told NewsClick that the police did not help in sending the body home, and the brother-in-law had to borrow Rs 20,000 to take the body back to Azamgarh. 

The family of another rack fitter, Pankaj, is also poor. Pankaj came to Delhi from UP's Lakhimpur and lived in a rented room with his wife in Northeast Delhi's Sonia Vihar.


Aarti Devi, Pankaj's wife, was not in a state to talk in the hospital. His brother-in-law told NewsClick that their children are 15 and 12, respectively. Pankaj's body was taken to Lakhimpur. 

Ramsurat, another rack fitter who died in the incident, also lived in the Sonia Vihar area. He had two children, a son and a daughter. Ramsurat was the sole earning member of the family. 


His brother Dinesh Singh told NewsClick that Ramsurat had been doing rack fitting work on a daily wage basis for many years. 

Demand for Employment From the Delhi Government

The family members of Ramsurat demanded a government job for the family members of the victims so that the families could sustain themselves. 

The family members of the victims were not happy with the compensation announced by the Delhi government. 

"Some permanent solution should be given to the family like the Delhi government gives Rs 1 crore along with a job on the death of an officer. Why doesn't it give the same amount to the labourers? Is there no value to the life of a labourer?"

Family Members Upset with Administration's Attitude

Madan Thakur was also extremely upset with the attitude of the administration. He said that no one was giving him correct information, and he had been wandering outside the mortuary of Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital since 8 am (February 16) to identify the body of his brother. Still, the hospital referred him to the police. 

This was not just the pain of Anil Thakur's family, but most of the family members present in the hospital were going through the same problem. Troubled by this, the family members gathered and approached the MS (Medical Superintendent) in the hospital. They surrounded the office of the hospital, after which the hospital administration 'misbehaved' with the people already saddened by the death of their relatives. First, the private security guards of the hospital tried to remove the family members from there, after which they called the police. After some argument, the family moved away from the MS office.

Amidst all this, MS told the family members that the delay in identification and post-mortem of the deceased was due to the police. The process will not start until they arrive, so they should call the investigating officer. Several hours later, the police station chief and the investigating officer reached the hospital with their team, started the paperwork, identified the bodies and started handing them over to their families.

Chief Minister Kejriwal Reached the Spot and Gave Assurance

After the accident, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reached the spot and said, "There was a fire in the Alipur paint factory at night. It is very sad. 11 people have died, and four are said to be injured. We are giving assistance of Rs 10 lakh each to the family of the dead. Life can not be valued, but we will try to do whatever we can. The government will give assistance of Rs 2 lakh each to the seriously injured persons and Rs 20,000 each to the moderately injured. After assessment of the losses incurred in shops and houses, those people will also be compensated." 

Kejriwal further said, "The allegation is that the fire brigade was late. I will order an investigation, and whoever is found guilty, we will not spare them. Action will be taken soon."

Regarding the incident, we contacted the investigating officer of this case, Anil and SHO Shailendra Kumar. Both of them admitted that the factory was completely illegal. 

"According to the information received, the factory caught fire due to welding sparks because there were chemicals in the entire factory. The fire spread very quickly, and no one got any chance to escape. We have registered an FIR," Anil said. 

Kumar echoed Anil. 

"It was a hall of 100-150 yards, which was completely in the middle of the residential area. The length of the hall was longer, the width was less, and it was closed from three sides so that people could not enter inside after the fire. The trapped people could not get out."

When asked about registering the company's name or any person in the FIR, he said, "No FIR has been lodged in anyone's name yet; we are still investigating."

Here, the question arises: how was this factory running illegally for so many years? Such questions arose after every fire in Delhi, but no answer was received. Such incidents have happened at three places in Delhi in 24 hours. Not only in Delhi, factories across the country are becoming dangerous for workers. A report shows that 90 workers die every month and about 1100 workers die every year in factories across the country, while 4000 workers get injured. These figures are enough to show the conditions under which workers are working in the country.


Siddheshwar Shukla, secretary of the Center of Indian Trade Unions ( CITU ), told NewsClick, "There are thousands of such buildings in the national capital, where many employees are currently working; they are not safe at all. When will the Delhi government wake up and ensure that safety norms under labour laws are properly implemented in the city?

Shukla demanded that the factory inspector of the area should be immediately suspended for negligence. Along with this, he also demanded an increase in compensation from the Delhi government and said that other such factories running in the entire capital should be investigated because such accidents are continuously increasing. 

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