Fatal Fire At Illegal Garment Factory In India Proves Things Are Still Not Getting Any Better

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | News

Image: post-fire photograph by Chandan Khanna. Image source.

Rana Plaza happened more than three years ago now but, unfortunately, things still haven’t improved. Yes, the Bangladesh Accord has been working towards a safe and healthy Ready-Made Garment Industry in Bangladesh. But plenty of brands aren’t doing their part to enact positive change. And yes, Fashion Revolution is working to raise awareness, but we still have a long way to go. In the past week for example, yet another factory disaster has been reported. According to Ecouterre, 13 workers died after a fire broke out at a suspected illegal garment factory on the outskirts of Delhi in India.

The workers were reportedly sleeping when the blaze took hold on the ground floor of a narrow residential building last Friday, local police spokesperson Bhagwat Singh told AFP. The building was being used to make faux-leather jackets and authorities believe the fire was either the result of faulty wiring or an unextinguished cigarette. Police superintendent Salman Taj said that three of the 13 workers were burned to death, while the others succumbed to smoke inhalation.

A further two to three workers were said to have survived by leaping from the building’s balcony, according to witnesses. They were subsequently rushed to the hospital and are currently being treated for injuries. “From what we see, there was nothing proper and the factory must surely not have been a legal one but we can say for sure only after a proper investigation,” said Fire officer Abbas Hussain. And according to residents, the neighbourhood of Sahibabad is actually a hub of illegal factories, most of which employ underpaid migrant workers.

This represents a wider problem for the fashion industry at large though, because unregulated factories such as these are often subcontracted by ‘first-tier’ factories, sometimes without the knowledge of the commissioning retailers. It is the very murkiness of this system that makes the fashion industry supply chain so problematic — and it is this that we desperately need to address.

“After so many disasters in the garment industry, and after all the attention that it has created, many factories in the South Asian garment industry continue to be unsafe and tragedies like these continue to happen,” said the Clean Clothes Campaign — an international alliance of labour unions and non-governmental organisations — via Facebook. In light of this news then, it’s important not to become complacent with your shopping habits. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to ask our favourite brands where their clothes came from. Because it is only through transparency and discussion that we can begin to mend a dangerously broken system.

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