Statement Of Condemnation On
May 30, 2022
‘Mundka Fire Tragedy’ In Delhi
21st May 2022: In one of the worst man-made industrial disasters in the national capital, as many as 27 workers reportedly lost their lives and many more are missing or injured, after a fire broke out in a four-storey building in Mundka, West Delhi on May 13 at around 3:30 PM. Of the 27 who died, 21 were women workers and of the 29 who remain missing, 24 are women. It is estimated that more than 100 workers were in the building when the fire broke out on the first floor at Cofe Impex Pvt. Ltd. – a CCTV camera manufacturing plant – and engulfed the entire building soon after. The tragedy only goes on to highlight the precarious working conditions within informal manufacturing units.
The incident was borne as a result of complicit criminal negligence of the proprietor, factory owners, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Police, Labour Department, and the Government, since there was:
- Continued illegal use of the commercial space for industrial production without any inspection or scrutiny by the Municipal Corporation or Delhi Police.
- Absence of crucial documents such as Factory License, No-Objection Certificate from the Fire Department.
- Absence of mandatory fire safety measures such as hose reel, water tank, fire detector, fire extinguishers and a second exit as specified under the Safety Manual of the Factories Act for which the Factory Inspectorate of the Delhi Govt. are to be held liable.
- Installation of decorative toughened glass which did not have a single window and was in violation of the building bylaws.
- Complete mismanagement by the Traffic Police and delay of as long as 70 minutes in the rescue operation by the Civil Defence Team and the Fire Department which only intensified the fire.
Apart from the abovestated norms which were unabashedly flouted due to State’s negligence, the company is reported to have been in gross violation of the basic compliances under labor law. The workers were migrants who were not provided minimum wages (and were working for as low as ₹6000 per month), overtime, PF fund and ESI. Muster rolls containing records of all the workers had never been maintained. Moreover, the unfair coercive practice of making workers deposit their phones at the factory entrance deprived them from raising an alarm about the fire to their friends and family.
Delhi has witnessed horrific incidents of similar nature previously in the industrial areas of Narela, Bawana, Seelampur, Nangloi, Udyog Nagar, Peeragarhi, Okhla, Nand Nagri and Rani Jhansi Road among others, yet nothing has substantively changed over these years. According to Indian Labour Statistics, there’s been a rising trend in the number of fatal occupational injuries across the country every year from 1990 to 2014. Delhi recorded 1529 industrial accidents, the highest in the country, between 2014 and 2017. There is only one factory inspector per 506 factories. Thus, the lives of workers continue to be wasted on account of absence of necessary preventive measures by the employers and wide leeway offered by the lax administration.
Such loss of lives will only increase in the coming days, as cost of compliance and safety measures are perceived as nothing short of hindrances that affect the profits of a company.
|Bhagwati Charan VohraRemembering the Revolutionary on his 92nd Martyrdom DayBhagwati Charan Vohra was an Indian revolutionary who along with his comrade-in-arms Bhagat Singh was an important member of the ‘Hindustan Socialist Republican Association’ and the ‘Naujawan Bharat Sabha’.On this day in 1930, aged just 26, he was martyred on the banks of River Ravi while testing a bomb which unexpectedly exploded.On his martyrdom day, we present his important essay titled ‘The Philosophy of the Bomb’ written with Chandrashekhar Azad and Yashpal in 1930 which was a reply to Gandhi’s critique of Indian revolutionaries titled ‘The Cult of Bomb’. 15th November 1903 – 28th May 1930|
In addition, the replacement of hard-earned 44 labour laws by 4 new anti-worker Labour Codes, particularly the “Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code” is only a step ahead in pushing out a large section of workers from the ambit of safety and other compliances and diluting labour regulations.
MASA strongly condemns State inaction and willful negligence in the Mundka Fire Tragedy which engulfed precious lives of at least 27 workers. The collective malafide negligence of all aforementioned authorities and the factory/building owners is to be entirely blamed for this homicide. In this light, MASA vehemently calls the state and central governments for attending to the following immediate demands:
- Stringent action be taken the factory/building owners and state officials responsible for the horrific Mundka Fire Tragedy, for homicide and criminal negligence!
- Exemplary compensation of ₹50 lakhs be given to families of the deceased while 5 lakhs coupled with free treatment to the injured workers!
- A responsible Inquiry Committee be immediately constituted for disclosure of the correct figures of deceased, injured, missing and rescued workers!
- A Fact-Finding Committee with proper representation of workers’ and trade unions’ representatives be immediately constituted for an unbiased and comprehensive investigation into the fire incident!
- Pending wages of workers at Cofe Impex company (estimated 250) for the months of April-May be immediately released!
- 4 Labour Codes be repealed and implementation of all labour laws be strictly ensured across the country!
Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA)