The governance and administration have once again raised questions over the death of 43 people in a fierce fire in north Delhi’s grain mandi area on Sunday. After every incident of the type, it is learnt that illegal factories had been operating in residential areas also with illegally built hotels, restaurants, theatres, etc — none with adequate fire safety arrangements.
Every time a fire audit is talked about, leaders throw muck at each other. Governments, municipal corporations and officials are blamed, but the issue cools down with the embers for a year or two. Even today, the BJP tried to target the government of the AAP, though soon, given the sensitivity of the case, it mellowed down.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death in the morning on getting the news.
The most dreadful fire incident in Delhi so far is that of Uphaar cinema which came out in the year 1997. Since then, apart from blaming each other, no concrete steps could be taken in this direction, which did not reveal such horrific incidents.
Sunday’s incident is also being reported that factories were operating illegally in the building. There were more plastic items inside. In such a situation, when the fire broke out, the smoke became so terrible that people could not recover and 43 choked to death. Here’s a recollection of some big incidents of fire in Delhi.
Uphaar cinema fire
The news from the cereal market reminds one of the Uphaar cinema scandal. The day of 13 June 1997 proved the last day of the lives of many people who came to see the border film at the Uphaar cinema in south Delhi. The fire broke out in the transformer room of the theatre during the show which quickly spread to other parts.
That fire had killed 59 people, including women and children. During the investigation of the incident, it was revealed that there were no proper security arrangements in the cinema hall.
17 dead in Bawana
On 21 January 2018, three factories caught fire in the capital’s Bawana Industrial Area. Seventeen people including eight women were among those who died. Illegal factories were operating in the area.
The fire broke out on the basement and the first floor of a crackers factory. Bawana Industrial Area is 35 km from Connaught Place.
17 people died in Hotel Arpit
On 12 February, the incident at Hotel Arpit in Karol Bagh killed 17 people. A small fire took a terrible form in the morning. There were about 53 people in the hotel at the time. People who slept in different rooms of the hotel suddenly suffocated around 3 am. The heat has increased. When the door opened, all was smoke. Many people started jumping from above to save their lives.
Then Delhi government minister Satyendra Jain had said that the coverage area of hotels is increased and restaurants are made on the terrace. The same was observed in the paid hotel. The building in this area of Karol Bagh cannot be built more than four storeys, but this hotel was built six storeys. Five paved floors and a temporary floor were built. The roof was completely covered with fibre sheets. Due to the fibre sheet, the fire spread rapidly in the hotel. There was wooden work on the wall, carpets were spread on the floor.
After the incident, the Fire Department investigated 45 hotels in Karol Bagh and 30 of them failed in the safety rules. The Delhi government then cancelled the licence of these hotels.
Fire in Narela’s factory only last month
On the night of 16 November, a fire broke out in a factory in Narela Industrial Area in outer Delhi. One person died in this accident, while goods worth lakhs of rupees were set ablaze.
Shoes and slippers were made in the factory. Therefore, a large number of chemicals used to make rubber and shoes and slippers were also kept here, due to which the fire broke out rapidly.
Open violation of fire-safety rules in Bawana
The plastic factory in outer Delhi’s Bawana Industrial Area suddenly caught fire last night. The fire brigade was able to overcome the inferno at 8 AM while the flames had started spreading at around 3 pm. Thankfully, at that time, there were no workers in the factory. Therefore, there was no loss of life or property of anyone. The source spark was located in both the basement and the floor above. Factory 3 was surrounded by walls of other factories. Hence hydro cranes were called to control the fire.
Twenty-two fire engines managed to control the flames after hard work. It was then reported that millions of goods and machinery burned to ashes in the building. The two-floor building was also completely dilapidated. The linter of the building may collapse at any time.
On 27 August this year, there was a sudden fire on the ground floor of the factory in the factory of making salty-chips in Sector 2A block of Bawana. Workers exited the factory as soon as the blaze was reported in the three-storey factory. Four fire engines arrived on the information tried to control the flare but failed. About 20 minutes after the water ran out in four engines, another fire engine arrived. By the time the conflagration had reached the third floor. Lakhs’ worth of goods were lost on sight.
On 23 March this year, a plastics factory in Bawana area caught fire. Four engines of fire brigade overcame it, with no casualties.
Fire incidents galore
On 19 November, 15 engines reached the spot and got control of the fire after receiving the information from outer Delhi’s Bakuli industrial area.
On August 27, a fire broke out on the second floor of Vikas Bhawan near ITO in the office of the Delhi Women’s Commission. The fire broke out in the conference hall where 22 to 25 employees were present. It was controlled after an hour of hard work.
On 23 March, 15 cars kept in confiscation were burnt down due to fire in Bhalswa Dairy police station store. At the time, no one was deployed to guard the warehouse. Five engines kept the fire under control. People said that if a policeman was stationed here, this accident could have been stopped in time.
Many areas in danger
There are many areas in Delhi where even if a spark erupts, there could be a huge loss of life and property. There is a big cloth market in Gandhi Nagar. At the same time, the condition of areas like Seelampur, Shahdara, Zafarabad, Narela, Laxmi Nagar is very serious.
Dozens of coaching centres run in East Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar area where there is nothing in the name of fire safety. The streets are very narrow. For some reason, even if a spark erupts there is a danger of a big accident. Knowing this, the administration is not taking any concrete steps. It is natural that unless there is any dreadful news coming from this area, the administration will not lose sleep.