There were no safety measures in place to prevent any fire incident in the Una firecracker factory where a blast killed six people and left 14 injured, 11 of them critically, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said in the House on Thursday.
He said the mishap occurred due to the negligence of the factory owner, who is on the run. He said given the seriousness of the incident, the DGP, Himachal Pradesh, had constituted a three-member committee led by DIG Sumedha Dwivedi. He said the bomb disposal squad and a team of experts from the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory have also visited the spot.
The chief minister said the company in question was earlier Novatech Engineering which was later merged with Guruji Enterprises illegally without any registration. The manager of the factory Deepak Kumar Rana was arrested on February 23 and the location of others is being traced through CDR and teams have been sent to arrest them. He said that 1,905 kg of gunpowder and 90 litres of paint has also been seized besides a car and a laptop.
Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri raised questions on how the factory was given clearance under the single window. He said the factory also violated the explosives Act. He asked the government to take strict action against the factory owners. He said the government departments were passing the buck on each other. “It’s an issue where people have been murdered, serious action should be taken and those found guilty should be hanged,” said Agnihotri.
Communist Party of India legislator Rakesh Singha said the blast in the factory had brought to the fore that the factory violated the electricity Act, factories Act and the minimum wages Act. He said the office of the industries department was just located 150 metres away from the site of the blast.
Meanwhile, in his statement, industry minister Bikram Singh said preliminary investigations have found that the firecracker factory was functioning illegally without regulatory approvals.
He said the company, M/S Novatech Engineers, in whose premises the blast occurred, had taken approval from the state government for manufacturing weighbridges and steel RCC under the Land Tenancy and Reforms Act, 1972.
He said the company was, however, illegally manufacturing pop-pop crackers for which it had no regulatory approvals and for power supply a diesel generator set was installed on the premises.
About 2km from the Nova-Tech Engineering, Singh said explosive material used to make firecrackers was recovered from the shed of M/S Jai Guruji Enterprises.