Ashok Holkar: "10 lives were lost in the industrial estate"

Ashok Holkar, director, New Rajkamal Printing Press speaks to Medha Virkar president of Mumbai Mudrak Sangh.

26 Nov 2014 | By PrintWeek India

On 17 March 2008 at 3.15 pm a fire broke out from a unit on the third floor. This unit was opposite our unit which manufactured air fresheners. It was an aerosol factory where the fire started.
From here it spread to adjacent units and to the fourth floor also. All 20 galas on the third and fourth floor were affected due to this fire. Since our gala was the closest, we were the most affected.

We also had the costliest machinery in that gala. Our four galas on the 3rd floor and one gala on the fourth floor were affected. Two four-colour machines, one cutting machine was 100% burnt and one two-colour machine, two single colour machines and one cutting machine were partially
burnt and were in repairable condition. Wiring and rollers were destroyed due to the heat produced. Immediately on learning about the fire, we evacuated the place and there was no loss of life at New Rajkamal Printing Press. However, 10 people lost their lives in the industrial estate.

And since all galas were affected everything came to standstill.

For one whole week, we could not enter our premises. The factory was closed for more than one month.

Then we started re-commissioning the repairable machines - those that were partially damaged and then we arranged funds for one four-colour and one cutting machine. After more than six
months our insurance claim was settled and we purchased the second four-colour machine. So it took us about eight months to be completely back in action.

One problem was, we were not well covered. All our machines were second hand and
self-funded. And all records of bills of fixed asset were destroyed and valuation became very difficult. Every time we were sent longs lists of queries which were difficult to answer without
any records and proofs. Although we had an insurance policy to cover risks with regard to machine, stock as well gala, I was not aware that the policy did not cover the paper supplied to
us by our customer which we held in Trust (in insurance language).

Also, when I replaced one of my old machines with a new one, it missed my attention to enhance the policy accordingly. This is where I feel insurance agents must do better work. Their duty does not end with collecting cheques to renew policies. Also, we as customers should read policies, much more carefully.

In this whole disaster, what saved me were the perfect insurance papers for one gala and most of my claim in relation to this gala was settled amicably.

My tip to fellow printers: The inferno taught me so much. I realised what a large family I had! Now I have taken the lead to insure our industrial estate. I also took the initiative to put the industrial estate back into action by initiating repairs and by following up with the insurance company for settlement of claims.

Medha Virkar was honoured with the Outputlinks' Women of Distinction Award for her industry experience, leadership skills and participation in the industry. Virkar who heads Kaleido Graphics has compiled a set of interviews with the printers affected by fire, floods and other accidents as part of Special Insurance Theme in the latest issue of Mumbai Mudrak Sangh's Print Bulletin. The above interview is an excerpt from the November 2014 print edition.