Jessop fire: CID files FIR against Pawan Kumar Ruia
The CID on Wednesday filed an FIR against Pawan Kumar Ruia, owner of Jessop for not taking steps to prevent frequent incidents of fire that are taking place in the Dum Dum factory.
Sovan Chatterjee, Minister for Fire and Emergency services department along with the local MLA and state IT minister Bratya Basu and Tanmay Roychowdhury, Commissioner, Barrackpore Commissionarate visited the factory on Tuesday after a fire broke out there on Monday. Chatterjee had announced that CID would investigate several incidents of fire that had taken place in the factory recently and those involved in the matter would not be spared.
A CID team on Wednesday visited the spot to conduct the inquiry. Many costly machines have already been stolen while spares of many others are found to be missing. There is no electricity connection at the factory for many years and no combustible elements have been kept. But despite that a fire broke out in front of gate number 24 on Monday night. Earlier, two more incidents of fire were reported on 11 and 13 October when a bus parked outside the area situated in between gates 24 and 25 caught fire and was gutted. Local people alleged that some people with vested interests were trying to set the factory on fire. They want to pull down the factory to make room for a housing complex. The price of land in the area where Jessop is situated has gone up over the years and now it is Rs 18 lakh a cottah. They further alleged that local criminals had damaged
portions of the boundary wall and were taking away iron scraps, parts of machines and other items. The police alleged that machineries worth 80 crore had been removed from the factory.
The allegations of local people are not without basis. Roy Chowdhury said that the Ruia group, the present owner of the company had been requested to repair the damaged portion of the boundary wall and repair the gates. The factory sheds had been broken in many places. The police also requested the group to clean the bushes that have come up all over the factory. But no action has yet been taken by the group. He said the fact behind the incidents of fire would be unearthed soon. The police have also not ruled out the possibility of sabotage.
The history of Jessop goes back to 1788 when Breen and Company was set up in Kolkata by William Jessop. Henry and George, sons of William acquired Breen and Company on behalf of Butterley Company which was set up by Jessop in Derbyshire. These companies were merged in 1820 to be renamed as Jessop Company.
The management of Jessop was taken over the Union government in 1958 and subsequently in 1953. The company was wholly taken over by the Union government and Jessop became a public sector undertaking.
In 2003, the government of India divested its stake in Jessop and sold 72 per cent stake to the Ruia group. The state government acquired Jessop and Dunlop and placed a bill in the Assembly. However, the bills are yet to get assent of the President of India.