The Pune Police on Tuesday arrested the SVS Aqua Technologies owner Nikunj Shah in connection with a fire that broke out yesterday in which 18 people including 15 women died. Police have arrested an offence of culpable homicide against Shah who owns SVS Aqua Technologies which manufactures chlorine dioxide among other chemicals and is located in the Pirangut MIDC area of Mulshi tehsil on the outskirts of Pune city.
Pune Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh told Free Press Journal, ‘’ The company owner Nikuj Shah has been arrested under the charges of culpable homicide. All 18 bodies have been kept in the mortuary of Pune’s Sassoon Hospital. It is difficult to identify them as they had charred to death in a major fire that broke on Monday. It has been decided to conduct DNA tests which will take at least four days and thereafter bodies will be handed over to the relatives.’’
According to the police, the names of 17 of the 18, who died yesterday, are known though the name of one is still missing.
Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, who was accompanied by the Baramati MP Supriya Sule, today visited the site and took stock of the situation. Walse Patil said, ‘’ The police are involved in identifying bodies after DNA tests. Action will be taken based on the inquiry committee report.’’
A senior officer from Pune Collectorate said that a nine member committee probed the incident and submitted the inquiry report to the District Collector and the state government. It has revealed that there was illegal stockpiling of additional flammable substances, non-registration of employees under ESIS and violation of fire safety regulations. Further, the report further noted that from 2016 to 2020, the company was operating a chemical processing unit without due permission of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. In addition, the company had made alterations in the original construction without the necessary permission of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
The inquiry has also revealed that 18 employees could not come out of the room as the automatic door was closed.
Meanwhile, Sule demanded that the state government must establish strong institutions and standard protocols for the prevention and containment of different types of fires.