On Tuesday, the Delhi Police revealed that illegal power connections and several illegal sub-meters caused a ‘short circuit’ triggering the fire incident that occurred on Sunday at a luggage manufacturing factory in Anaj Mandi area that killed 43 people injuring several others.
According to the reports, the Crime Branch of Delhi police has revealed that the building owners had four power connections along with sub-meters illegally installed to every tenant causing a short circuit, which led to breaking out of the fire in the building killing more than 40 people.
“Investigation has revealed there were four power connections and further illegal sub-meters were installed for tenants, this aspect is being investigated,” police said.
Reportedly, the property was purchased by prime accused Mohammed Rehan’s father and father-in-law in 2004, when it was only three storeys tall. The accused Rehan allegedly constructed two more floors without laying a lintel. The accused had let out 15 of the 18 rooms in the building to 15 tenants, who had installed illegal meters in the building to run their power units.
The accused had allegedly installed illegal 18 sub-meters for all 18 rooms in the building. One of the survivors revealed to the police that around 10-12 industrial sewing machines were installed in the building and direct connections from the main meter on the ground floor were drawn using naked wires. Each floor had six sub-meters. He added that they had seen sparks at these sub-meters in the past, which was ignored by the owners.
Addition to these violations, the building also housed over a dozen illegal manufacturing units and warehouses which was run from congested and ill-ventilated rooms filled with combustible materials. These units had just one narrow entrance to the building spread across an area of 500 square yards, which ensured that fire trucks and officials did not have proper access to the site.
Reportedly, the fire officials claimed that they had received fire calls quite often from the area. However, the concerned authorities could not take any action against the illegal factories because their vehicles could not pass these narrow lines as they were congested.
Atul Garg, Delhi’s Chief Fire Officer, said that there were no windows or any source of ventilation, making it difficult for the firefighters to make their way in through the thick smoke. Only one window on the first floor could be opened. He also added that the building did not have a fire clearance certificate and no fire safety equipment was found installed in this premise.
“There was an internal staircase connecting the two plots but it was blocked by goods and cartons leaving no room for anyone to escape,” said Garg.
BSES officials, who also visited the site, said prima facie it appeared that the fire in the internal wiring system of the building. “Electricity meters on the ground floor are absolutely intact. The moment we got information about the fire, our team rushed to the site and the supply was disconnected immediately,” said BSES in a statement.
The Delhi Police have now said that they will conduct a 3D laser scanning of the ground and the first floor of the building to probe the fire incident. They added that the debris at the place will be cleared tomorrow by the municipal corporation after the visit of the CFSL team.
“Post mortem of 40 deceased has been done. Three more are left now. The visit of Central Forensic Science Laboratory, (CBI) Team has also been fixed for tomorrow,” it added.
As many as 43 people were killed and 62 others were injured in a massive fire at the factory in Old Delhi’s Anaj Mandi in the wee hours of Sunday. Most of the people who lost their lives were labourers who were sleeping at the factory in Anaj Mandi on Rani Jhansi Road when the fire broke out at 5 am.
An FIR has been registered in connection with the fire incident and the case has been transferred to the crime branch for further investigation. The factor owner Mohammed Rehan has now been detained by the Police. The Delhi police have begun their search operations to find other two accused Suhail and Imran, both are on the run since the incident.