Authorities must wake up to the festering problem
In the worst fire tragedy in Delhi in 20 years, at least 43 people were killed in a five-storey building when a short-circuit caused a blaze that choked most of the victims to death. The building housed over a dozen illegal manufacturing units and warehouses and doubled up as the sleeping quarters for 100 to 150 workers. The building had no fire safety clearance or any fire safety equipment. Plus, the narrow approach to the building made it difficult for firefighters to access it — only one fire truck was able to enter the approach lane.
Unfortunately, this is a shockingly familiar story. Buildings that don’t meet the fire code populate the city. Additionally, illegal construction, encroachment and circumvention of bylaws have resulted in hazardous urban landscape. Rules are loosely enforced and there is rampant low level corruption. And once illegal buildings and colonies come up in significant numbers, it becomes politically risky to take action against them.
This vicious cycle gets repeated often, putting lives in danger. Unless rules are enforced properly and illegal construction of buildings and encroachment nipped in the bud, tragedies will continue to happen. The latest Delhi fire is yet another wake-up call for the authorities.