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Mumbai: Fact-find team probing Mankhurd scrap godown fire

Fact-finding team to visit Mankhurd godown again, says informal set-up fosters flouting of safety norms which makes such units susceptible to adverse incidents

25 February,2021 05:57 AM IST  |  Mid-day   | Gaurav Sarkar

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An independent fact-finding team that is probing the February 5 fire at a scrap godown in Mankhurd said that the “informal environment” in which the labourers and workers worked, most without contracts and the ability to demand compensation, is important to take into account and that they have multiple issues to consider while establishing the cause of the fire.

“We need to pay a second visit,” said Bilal Khan of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, a member of the fact-finding team. Other members include Advocate Lara Jesani, Shweta Damle (Habitat and Livelihood Welfare Association), Farah Thakur (Vatavaran) and Dr Shaihla Khan (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan). The team visited the ground on Saturday, February 20, to probe the cause, impact of the smoke on people living/working there and violation of labour norms.

“We want to engage with labourers and owners about what is holding them back from following safety norms and using safety equipment and what we can do about it. It is mostly locals who work in these factories and godowns. Hence, the link of their livelihood and accommodation is important to take into consideration. While there may be violations, it is important to look into the reasons for the informal work environment, livelihood issues and living conditions of labourers and residents,” Khan said. The team will visit the spot again on Saturday this week.

Khan said that a majority of the structures in the area are small godowns and factories, whose basic work is segregating waste material. “Some of them deal with waste chemicals, while others even refine those chemicals. They do not follow safety norms, which is very common in industrial pockets like Dharavi, Thane, Mankhurd, etc. So one needs to consider whether regularisation can help in the protection of enterprise, workers and the environment, especially taking into account the livelihood opportunities these small units are providing to thousands.”


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