A day after 12 people were charred in a fire at an illegal condiment factory in Sakinaka, the civic body on Tuesday tried to shrug off its responsibility by attributing the tragedy to a combination of several issues.Political pressure, court cases and government failure in checking illegal supply of electricity and gas cylinders for commercial purposes the hurdles that it faces in controlling unauthorised businesses in the city, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.”It is a socio-economic problem that people come to Mumbai to do odd jobs. The workers who died on Monday were from north India,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Bharat Marathe. The Bhanu condiment factory on Khairani Road was too small to operate as a factory and accommodate 20 people, said Marathe, the in-charge of civic affairs for the area.And the issues span across Mumbai, he said. “It is a reality that 60 percent of the city have the same scenario.” Regular inspections and strict action are the need of the hour, he said.Vote-bank politics undo all the efforts of the civic body, said a BMC official, who did not wish to be named. “We are under immense political pressure to not take action in slums. It is only after court orders that we can do something.” He said only a handful of politicians allow the BMC to do its work in good faith.Resource crunch is another impediment, said the second official. “We lack staff in sanitary inspections, factory and licence departments. One person can inspect maximum 20 shops per day but in Mumbai depending on the area ranging from 60 to 200 illegal small scale businesses come up every day. Many a times we don’t even come to know that some businesses start and even closes after few months. Even if we take the owner to court, high court penalises him sometimes with just Rs 500 and the illegal business continues”, he said.BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who has written to the BMC chief after Monday’s tragedy, said he has demanded inspection at all condiment factories in Mumbai. “It may be true that some politicians don’t allow BMC action, but it is not important at the moment. We have to look forward that such incidences should not occur and innocent should not lose their lives”.
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