Red Zone in Crisis: Talawade Candle Factory Fire Sheds Light on PCMC’s 1700 Unauthorized Units

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Pimpri Chinchwad, 9th December 2023: A devastating fire broke out at a sparkling candle manufacturing unit in Talawade on Friday, claiming six lives and leaving 10 others injured. Shockingly, the factory is situated in the red zone, just 1.8 km from the Dehu Road ammunition factory, according to officials from the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC).

PCMC officials revealed that ward number 12, encompassing areas like Talawade Gaothan, MIDC, IT Park, Sahyognagar, Rupinagar, and Triveninagar, houses a total of 1,792 industrial units—all operating illegally. The gravity of the situation extends to the ‘F’ zone of PCMC as well, with 2,900 illegal units, including Talawade Gaothan, Nigdi Gaothan, and Chikhali Gaothan.

City Engineer Makarand Nikam emphasized, “Our teams have taken action against illegal structures in the past, even removing tin sheds covering 1-acre land. Construction activities are strictly prohibited in red zone areas.”

Civic officials acknowledged the rampant growth of small-scale industries in the region over the past few decades. A businessman operating a small unit in Talawade revealed, “The candle factory, operating on a 1,000 sqft rented space for around one-and-a-half years, employed mainly women. Surprisingly, the entrance board lacked the company’s name.”

Criticism surfaced against PCMC and local police for allegedly overlooking illegal establishments in the twin cities. Social activist Maruti Bhapkar remarked, “It is a failure on the part of the civic body and the police for not taking action against the illegal units despite receiving inputs against them.”

Madan Sonigara, a member of the Dehu Road Red Zone Sangharsh Samiti, suggested, “The government must either acquire the land and compensate the affected people or reduce the red zone area. PCMC’s provision of civic amenities in these areas seems to encourage illegal units.”

Amidst the tragedy, questions arose about permissions for the blaze-hit factory. A police officer assured, “There was no permission granted from the police department for the blaze-hit factory. We are investigating the issue.”