The Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation — the two agencies responsible for enforcing laws at Bawana Industrial area — have prepared separate reports in the Bawana fire incident, both clearing themselves and blaming the other for the incident.
Seventeen people were killed when a fire broke out at an illegal firecracker packaging unit in Bawana industrial area on January 20.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain is the chairman of DSIIDC, while the North Corporation is headed by the BJP. In a nine-page report prepared by officials of the North Corporation and submitted to its Mayor, it has been stated that since the industrial plot was allotted by the DSIIDC, activities carried out there are to be monitored by that body, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the Labour department, the Revenue department and the Delhi Fire Services (DFS).
On the other hand, the DSIIDC submitted a preliminary report to Jain, who is also the Industries minister, stating that provisions related to building construction, grant of factory and trade licence fall under the domain of the MCD and, under the DMC Act 1957, no person shall, without previous permission of the Commissioner, begin factory or any other work in any premises. Under the DMC Act, the civic body has powers to regulate building construction as per the approved layout plan, and also has power to get buildings vacated in cases of violations, the DSIIDC report said.
A Delhi government spokesperson said, “The DSIIDC report was clear on whose responsibility laid where. In fact, the Mayor spoke on record about the fact that its agency was responsible for licensing. Now they are trying to deflect responsibility.”
The North Corporation report, however, states that DSIIDC and industries department of the Delhi government are the competent authorities to take punitive or legal action in case of violations of allotment of relocation plots, and also violations of conditions of lease allotments. The report also mentions that these two departments have the power to cancel allotments in case of violation of terms and conditions and take action.
Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit said, “Even in multiplicity of agencies, the guidelines and constitutional provisions are often clear but this is done to pass the buck. This is the time when both the agencies should have identified where the lapses had been and ensured better enforcement so that this is not repeated.” Former municipal corporation commissioner, K S Mehra, said that to deal with multiplicity of authorities, the central government should intervene and make it clear as to which agency is responsible for enforcement, so that in the future, the onus can be on one body.