Image for representational use only.
New Delhi: Factories in the Delhi-NCR region are fast becoming hell-holes for workers. Most of the factories where fire incidents have been reported recently have been openly flouting labour laws related to safety. The most recent case being the blaze in a factory located in Karol Bagh in central Delhi, where four people were killed on Monday, including two women. Two of the dead workers were single bread-winners.
Such are the unsafe working conditions that one of the workers, a heavily-built man got stuck at the exit door while escaping the building when the fire broke out, blocking the route for others, firefighters told PTI.
According to Delhi Fire Service officials, the fire started at 12.23 p.m in Beadonpura area in Karol Bagh after a solvent used for laundering clothes spilled out on the floor accidentally. All the victims were involved in laundering and steam-ironing clothes in a factory.
"The 700 square feet five-storey building was built around 25 to 30 years ago. It has only one exit gate. On the first floor, the pressing workshop was placed while on other floors, there were other small factories," a local resident told Mirror Now.
People said the building was inside a very narrow lane where even a four-wheeler cannot enter properly, making it difficult for even fire tenders enter the lane. Hose pipes had to be placed on the roofs of adjacent buildings to douse the flames.
The factory, being run by one Ajay Khurana, who has been arrested, was being run illegally in a residential area, according to an NDTV report.
This year alone, there have been a series of factory fires in Delhi-NCR, claiming the lives of several workers, mostly working on contract or on casual basis.
-- On January 20, a total of 17 workers, including 10 women, were charred to death in a massive fire that broke out in a fire-cracker factory in Bawana industrial area.
-- On February 10, one worker died after a fire broke out at a garment manufacturing unit in Karol Bagh.
-- On April 7, two workers died in a blaze at a footwear manufacturing unit at an industrial area in Bhorgarh, Narela, in North-West Delhi.
-- On April 9, four workers — including two minors — died after a fire broke out at an illegally running shoe manufacturing unit in Sultanpuri of North-West Delhi.
-- On April 17, two workers died in a fire at a crockery factory in Nawada.
-- On April 22, two workers were burnt to death in a fire at a jeans manufacturing unit in Gandhinagar, Shahadra in North-East Delhi.
According to trade unions, there are thousands of illegal units that operate in extremely small and claustrophobic premises, where installing fire safety measures is next to impossible.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has blamed the callous attitude of the government towards working conditions of labour, as inspection continues to remain weak across the national capital region.
There are just 11 labour inspectors to take of more than 20 lakh workers in Delhi, a CITU leader had told Newsclick earlier.