Delhi Fire: Bribes Drive Illegal Factories, Admit Cops & Officials
Delhi Fire | Everybody gets hafta to overlook illegal factories operating in Anaj Mandi, tells a senior cop.
“Police has no role in shutting down illegal factories until and unless they receive any complaint. Police walon ki toh dadagiri chalti hai, iss darr se factory owners pay them hafta (Policemen keep bullying so factory owners are forced to pay bribe). The Station House Officer (SHO) of the police station can take suo motu action and initiate process to shut down illegal factories. But if the SHO does so without any complaint, then his seniors will stop him, who could be gaining something out of it.”
A senior Delhi police officer told this to The Quint on the condition of anonymity. He also pointed out the problem of “multiplicity of authorities” behind the tragic incident of the massive fire that broke out in Rani Jhansi Road in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area on Sunday morning, 8 December which killed at least 43 people and left several injured.
The police officer explained that since not one authority is accountable for such an incident, it becomes easier for all of them to blame each other.
“It is the duty of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD’s) factory licensing department to inspect and find out whether these factories have proper licenses or not and if not then they should issue show cause notices to factory owners. It is the duty of the Labour Department to inspect whether minors are employed in such factories. Again it is the duty of the Electricity Department to inquire how did the factory owner manage to get commercial meter. But none do their jobs.”Delhi Police Officer
The police officer also emphasised on the nexus between factory owners, government officials and police.
“Everybody gets the cut from factory owners and not just the cops - from MCD officials to Fire Department to Labour Department etc. So everybody is happy and nobody cares.”Delhi Police Officer
Nobody Listens To Residents’ Complaint
Rani Jhansi Road is a densely populated area with several residential buildings. Why don’t the residents complain?
“Most of the residents don’t complain because they are aware of the nexus between factory owners and others and know nothing will happen. And if someone gets the courage to file a complaint, then somehow it gets settled by the factory owners with the help of police.”Delhi Police Officer
Expressing frustration with the system, he explains why no police officer wants to bell the cat.
“If a honest officer is unable to ignore the issue, then as per the procedure he/she has to write to the Labour Department, MCD, Electricity Department and Fire Department about illegal functioning of the factory and wait till they file a complaint with the police. Until he/she receives a complaint in his/her hand, he cannot do anything.”Delhi Police Officer
MCD Officials Blame Police Non-Cooperation
The Quint spoke to a field inspector in the MCD to get his version. He blamed police for non-cooperation in raiding such illegal factories.
“The factory owners of Rani Jhansi Road have each other's back because of which MCD officials are scared of raiding the place alone. As far as police is concerned they are of not much help. In one such incident in East Delhi, a person died because of scuffle between the MCD officials and factory owners while the police just witnessed it.”
At Least 2 Dozen Illegal Factories Are Operating in Anaj Mandi: Councillor
BJP councillor from Sadar Bazar and Chairman of the Standing Committee of North Municipal Corporation of Delhi Jai Pradesh confessed that due to the corrupt system, factory owners are able to get away with illegal activities.
“The entire system is corrupt, I am not denying it. But at the same time I would say that the corrupt system has been prevailing for years. And I would blame bribe giver and receiver equally. We are trying to clean the system.”Jai Prakash, Councillor, Sadar Bazar, Delhi
Prakash also said that just a few days ago on 7 December, MCD inspectors conducted a survey in Anaj Mandi. Based on the survey, he said MCD planned to issue show cause notices to at least 15-20 factories. But before this could happen fire broke out in that area.
When asked about the building which caught fire running factories for almost 7-8 years, and escaping the notice of MCD surveys, the Councillor said, “I cannot really comment on this because I became a Councillor just 2 years ago.”
Prakash blames Delhi government’s Electricity Department for putting up a commercial electricity meter in factories without licences. He added that measures will be taken to avoid recurrence of such an incident.
Clearly, MCD is blaming other departments and shrugging off their responsibility.
Will anything change after this incident or will illegal factories continue to operate, putting in danger the lives of hundreds of people?
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