Day after explosion killed 9 workers, opposition accuses govt of shielding company | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Day after explosion killed 9 workers, opposition accuses govt of shielding company

Dec 19, 2023 06:24 AM IST

Nagpur: Opposition leaders staunchly criticised the state government on Monday in both houses of the legislature over Sunday’s blast at Solar Explosive India Limited near Nagpur which killed nine workers

Nagpur: Opposition leaders staunchly criticised the state government on Monday in both houses of the legislature over Sunday’s blast at Solar Explosive India Limited near Nagpur which killed nine workers. They alleged that the government was shielding the company’s management instead of taking punitive action against perpetrators and demanded a compensation of 50 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased.

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Meanwhile, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the lower house that families of the deceased would be compensated with 25 lakh, including 20 lakh ex-gratia announced by the company, and 5 lakh from the chief minister’s relief fund. He claimed that all 3,400 workers at Solar Explosive, which supplies explosives for the defence sector, are paid minimum wages. He also said that the police had registered a case of death by negligence in connection with the incident.

Leader of opposition in the legislative assembly Vijay Wadettiwar claimed that Sunday’s blast at Solar Explosive was preceded by two other blasts. The police should have booked the company’s owner for murder as nine workers had lost their lives, including a 23-year-old widow who was survived by two girls of tender age, he said.

“Who will look after these girls? The company has announced a compensation of 20 lakh while the state government has given 5 lakh. But this money is not sufficient to compensate for the loss of workers’ lives,” he said, demanding that the company be made to pay 50 lakh as compensation.

Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar faction) legislator Shashikant Shinde too raised questions about the company’s safety record, saying two similar explosions had occurred in the recent past. The compensation declared by the government was also not enough to cover the needs of families of the deceased, he said, wondering if the government was placing a monetary value on the lives of innocent workers.

Leader of opposition in the legislative council Ambadas Danve, who visited the blast site last night, criticised the lax safety measures. He said mandatory safety drills had not been conducted at the company and officials from the industrial safety department were denied access to its premises. He demanded a report from the collector regarding the incident and action against officials from the industrial safety department. He also expressed concern over the exploitation of labourers, saying they were forced to work in the early morning shift after working late into the previous night.

Speaking in the lower house, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the bodies of five out of nine deceased workers had have been removed from the debris, and the rescue operation was still underway.

The police have registered case under section 304(a) (death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code and are currently awaiting the forensic report, he said, adding the case could be upgraded depending on the contents of the report.

“CCTV footage is available till the minute the blast took place and investigative agencies are looking into every possible angle,” said Fadnavis. He mentioned that eight of the deceased workers were insured and entitled to a monthly pension of 12,000 to 11,800.

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