The fire at a cramped four-storey illegal factory in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area that killed 43 people has evoked memories of various fatal accidents that have snuffed out innocent lives often due to the negligence of authorities. Here is a list of five such industrial incidents that shook the nation’s conscience.
Bombay High, July 27, 2005: At around 4 pm, the Bombay High North oil platform operated by state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was struck by a drifting ship named Samudra Suraksha. The vessel had gone to pick up an ailing ONGC employee and had lost control in the choppy seas. The collision caused a major oil spill which caused both the platform and the ship to catch fire. The fire claimed 10 lives and many were reported missing. It destroyed India’s biggest oil platform and the Indian Navy and Coast Guard were called in for rescue operations.
Kolkata, November 22, 2006: It was quite like the Delhi Anaj Mandi blaze where sleeping workers of a leather factory were caught unawares as the fire broke out at the unit. In the wee hours of November 22, 2006 a huge fire broke out in the leather factory located in South 24 Parganas. When workers realised the factory was ablaze, they were unable to break open the locked doors of the unit. Thirty people were burnt to death in the inferno. The fire service was blamed for their slow response.
Jaipur, October 29, 2009: A giant tank holding 8,000 kilolitres of petrol at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) depot in Jaipur caught fire in the evening of October 29, 2009. While the number of deaths were pegged at 12, with hundreds others injured, the repercussions were to follow in the days to come. Thousands of people were evacuated after petrol fumes made breathing difficult. It was only after 11 days that the raging fire, which had spread to adjacent fuel tanks as well and was causing loud explosions, was brought under control.
Sivakasi, September 5, 2012: Considered the firecracker capital of India, Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is home to many such factories. An explosion caused by chemical reactions between ingredients used in the manufacture of crackers in Om Sakthi Fireworks factory led to the death of 40 people, most of whom were workers in the factory. Many villagers who rushed to the spot after the initial explosions were also caught in subsequent flare-ups. A probe into the mishap found several people guilty of negligence, including the owners of the factory where the tragedy occurred.
Unchahar, November 1, 2017: A boiler explosion occurred at the 1,550-Mw thermal power plant in Unchahar in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareilly district. The plant was run by the government-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). Forty-three people were killed in the blast and more than a hundred were injured. An inquiry was launched by the Modi government subsequently. The committee was headed by P.D Siwal, member of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).