(MENAFN- IANS) By Supriya Ramesh
New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) Other than natural disasters like an earthquake hitting the city, Delhiites also face the danger of recurring fire incidents.
Every time the irked citizens ask: 'Why aren't the authorities strict enough to ensure the implementation of the fire safety measures in Delhi?'
From Uphaar to Mundka to Narela and now Bhagirath Palace, the city continues to witness frequent fire incidents, killing innocents.
It was 25 years back when the 3 p.m. screening of the movie 'Border' at Uphaar cinema in south Delhi's Green Park was disrupted by a major fire which caused 59 deaths due to asphyxiation while 103 were injured in the resulting stampede. It was one of the worst fire tragedies to take place in Delhi.
After the Uphaar tragedy that took place in 1997, a chemical factory at Lal Kuan in Old Delhi caught fire, killing 57 people two years later.
In 2011, 14 people were killed and over 30 injured in a fire at a community function of eunuchs in Nand Nagri.
The year 2018 was the worst of all as incidents of fire occurred thrice that year. A fire in a factory in Bawana Industrial Area, which was manufacturing firecrackers without a licence, killed 17 workers in January; four members of a family, including two minors, were killed in a fire at Kohat Enclave in April and four people were killed and one injured in a blaze at a factory in Karol Bagh in November.
In February 2019, a fire caused by a short-circuit in the air conditioner in a room at Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh killed 17 people. The hotel did not have a fire No Objection Certificate (NOC).
The same year, in December, 43 labourers trapped inside a five-story residential building, which had some illegal units running on its premises, were killed in a blaze at Old Delhi's Anaj Mandi.
Last year, six workers were killed in a fire at a shoe factory in west Delhi's Udyog Nagar.
Talking about this year, since January, more than 10 fire incidents have taken place so far. A factory in northeast Delhi's Gokulpuri caught fire on March 12 and enveloped the nearby shanties, killing seven people, including three minors and a pregnant woman. The Mundka fire in May claimed 27 lives.
However, no lessons seem to have been learnt. There are several fire-prone areas in the city where factories are being operated in residential areas. The units continue to grow unchecked in many parts of Delhi.
There are certain hubs in the city like Nehru Place's computer market, Karol Bagh's jewellery shops, Paharganj's budget-friendly hotels, Panchkuian Road's furniture market, and more that are vulnerable places. These are so full of vendors and congested streets that emergency vehicles like fire tenders and ambulances cannot access them.
Although the judiciary has issued notices and orders to take action against all the illegally running factories, there was a recent factory mishap in the narrow lanes of Bhagirath Palace market in old Delhi. Around 150 shops were gutted while four buildings collapsed partially after a massive fire had broken out.
Another fire broke out in Delhi's Narela last month. The factory where six people died and 14 were injured in a fire on November 1 had no licence under the Factories Act.
On December 1, around 10 vehicles caught fire in Sadar Bazar.
In 2017, the Delhi High Court observed that the Hauz Khas Village in south Delhi is a ticking time bomb. The court had also observed that neither the government agencies nor the restaurant owners of the area have responded to its queries on safety and other issues.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal had warned the associations of restaurant owners that they will not be allowed to escape civil and criminal liability in case any unfortunate incident takes place, as there was virtually no space for emergency vehicles to enter the area.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the district magistrate, North Delhi, to ensure that compensation is paid within two weeks to the families of six people who died and 14 people who were injured in a factory fire in Narela.
(Supriya Ramesh can be reached at )