According to some local residents in Delhi, vigilant authorities could have prevented the tragedy. According to Fire officials frequent fire calls from the area were normal and many a time it was treated as “just another call.” A vigilant official would have normally enquired why fire calls come from the area so frequently. But that never happened and as a result 43 lives were lost on Monday.
The area is crowded with factories and small manufacturing units operating from old, cramped quarters and in blatant disregard for the fire safety and municipal norms. It’s pointed out that the building in which the tragedy happened was located in a residential locality where mixed land use (MLU) was permitted. However, it’s also true that MLU norms were not complied with as the norms permit commercial activity only on the ground floor and the remaining floors should be used for residential purpose. Neither the industrial unit had any valid licence to carry on the business nor did it secure No Objection Certificate from the Delhi Fire Services department. And most importantly, the building didn’t have a building plan sanctioned by the local body.
However, some town planners point out that it’s the amendment to the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD)-2021 which relaxed norms for household industries as the main reason for recurring fire accidents happening in the buildings. Last year, the Central government had amended the MPD-2021 to provide relief to household industries operating from residential areas by allowing units of up to nine workers with power connection of 11 kilowatt (KW), instead of the limit of five people and 5 KW power connection as per the earlier plan. In November this year, this provision was further amended to do away with the permission of Delhi government’s labour department and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) needed to set up such units.
Town planners opine that such relaxations would not only add to parking and transportation woes but also ensure that accidents like fire tragedies would keep on happening. They felt that the government while relaxing the norms should have increased the monitoring by the authorities.