New Delhi: Trade unions in the city demanded the resignation of deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia from the charge of state labour and employment departments over the fire incident in West Delhi's Mundka here on Tuesday.
Demonstrating outside his residence on Mathura Road, the unions said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – led government didn't learn "any lessons" from the industrial fire incidents that shook the national capital in the past. The protest was called by INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, LPF, AICCTU, UTUC, MEC, ICTU, and IFTU.
The latest incident, which has claimed at least 27 lives while several others are still reported to be missing, highlights "totally irresponsible & insensitive behaviour" of the Delhi government towards the city's workers, the leaders said. The minister must be held responsible for the same, they added.
A three-story building on Rohtak Road in West Delhi's Mundka was gutted due to a purported short circuit earlier last Friday, which eventually turned out to be the worst fire accident that the capital has witnessed in years.
The initial probe has revealed that the blaze broke out on the first floor of the building, which was among the two floors rented out to a manufacturer of CCTV cameras and Wi-Fi routers – which translates into a possible violation of civic norms that has deemed commercial activities, apart from those involving small shops, as non-conforming on village lands, commonly referred to as Lal Dora land.
Friday's blaze has also brought the legality of the building under the scanner, as it was revealed in the media that clearance to its plan by the civic authorities was probably absent.
On Tuesday, demonstrating unions raised questions about why the brazen flouting of safety norms and legal provisions was not treated as a concern by the Delhi government earlier.
"How was the building in Mundka allowed to be built? Where are the agencies that are responsible for it? Which government departments are responsible for the production running [in the unit] against the laws? Why were the safety manuals and other labour laws stipulated under the safety manual of the factories act not implemented?" they said in a joint memorandum submitted to the office of deputy CM Sisodia.
These are essential questions, answers to which must be made available to the public by Sisodia, Anurag Saxena, state general secretary, CITU – Delhi, told NewsClick on Tuesday.
"If at all proper inspection had been carried out earlier in the industrial quarters to ensure implementation of labour laws, the Friday's incident could have been averted," he argued, adding that the unions were expecting to meet the deputy CM over similar issues on Tuesday morning, but to no avail, as the latter was on a visit to Himachal Pradesh's Shimla at the time.
Saxena added that responsibility also lies with the city's civic authorities, notably North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), under the administration of which the said area falls.
"An immediate action must be taken against the culprits, which includes not just the building and factory owners, but also officials in the government departments," he said.
The unions on Tuesday also demanded that the families of those who lost their loved ones must be paid an ex-gratia amount of Rs 50 lakh, while those who sustained injuries must be paid Rs 5 lakh in compensation.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those who got injured in the Mundka blaze.