Delhi fire due to flouting of norms, authorities under lens



Deaths of 43 people could have been averted if the fire safety and other mandatory norms to run factories were not flouted by the bag manufacturing factory being run in 'Anaj Mandi' in Delhi's Rani Jhansi Road area where the tragic fire occurred on early Sunday morning, a Delhi Fire Service (DFS) official said.

He raised questions against the concerned authorities for giving permission to run such factories in residential areas and letting these units run despite lapses on many necessary grounds.

Calling it the biggest ever fire tragedy in the history of Delhi after Uphaar Cinema tragedy which occurred in south Delhi's Green Park on June 13, 1997, leading to deaths of 59 people and over 100 non-fatal injuries, the official, requesting anonymity told IANS, the factory had "flouted" the fire safety norms and there was "no proper exit".

"Many factories are being run in residential colonies and most of them are functioning without licenses. Such factories do not even have fire extinguishers and avoid mandatory fire safety norms," said the official.

The official said that the death toll in the bag manufacturing unit in Rani Jhansi Market would not have gone up if it had adhered to fire safety norms and constructed in open place, which is mandatory as per factory bylaws.

"The factory is being run in the area for long but there was a lack of fire exit way and other fire safety norms," the official said.

At least 43 people, most of them reportedly children in the age group of 14 to 20, were killed and over a dozen others injured early on Sunday when a fire broke out in the bag manufacturing factory in a crowded market in Rani Jhansi Road area. The blaze was ignited around 5 a.m. due to short circuit.

The people who died in the fire are labourers from Bihar and other neighbouring states and they were sleeping in the factory when the fire broke out. So far, more than 63 people have been rescued and shifted to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital and Lady Harding Hospital.

"Had the fire alarms been set up in the factory and a proper exit way would have been there, the deaths could have been averted," the official said.

It was noted on the spot that no such facility was there in the factory and the labourers sleeping there could not get alert of the fire leading to their deaths - some due to burning and others with suffocation, said another DFS officer.

Asked about which authority is behind these lapses, the official said, it is a joint responsibility of Licensing Department, the Delhi Police, the Health Department and the Delhi's Municipal Corporation.

The official reminded how the lapse in fire safety norms had led to the deaths of 17 people and injuries to 35 others in a blaze that swept a hotel in central Delhi in February this year. Following the incident, the Delhi government had closed 58 guest houses in Karol Bagh area after their fire safety certificates were cancelled for violations.IANS 

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