Sunday’s fire prompted a fresh round of blame game between the Centre and the Delhi government. Union Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri laid the blame on the Delhi Fire Services, the Labour department and the state Urban Development department, saying it was their responsibility to take action against the illegally operating unit.
“The building flouted safety and fire norms. Delhi Fire Services has sections… that stipulate that a building of this height and occupancy level needs fire safety and fire prevention measures. But no known action was taken by DFS,” Puri said in a statement.
DFS rules state that residential buildings over 15 metres tall or with ground plus four upper storeys, including a mezzanine floor, are liable for action. DFS director Atul Garg, however, said: “The plans of any building have to be presented to the DFS by relevant agencies, which in this case is the municipal corporation. The purpose of the building and its height are told to us by these agencies.”
The Delhi government, meanwhile, blamed North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Calling Puri’s statement “shocking and false”, an official statement by the government said its agencies come into the picture only when the premises are legal.
“Why is the union ministry defending an illegal factory being run in violation of all rules and has taken so many innocent lives?… It is MCD’s duty to check building plans, whether buildings have been lawfully constructed and what activities are going on,” it said.
The leader of opposition in the North municipal body, AAP’s Surjeet Pawar, called for the resignation of commissioner Varsha Joshi.
But AAP hit out at BJP for indulging in politics over the incident. “It is the BJP which is responsible for issuing licences to manufacturing units in residential areas. The party is playing politics over dead bodies,” said AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.