Two days after a fire at Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh left 17 dead, the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee found that agencies could have taken action against the hotel for violation of norms despite the premises falling under the purview of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act.
The committee, which is investigating the lapses that led to the blaze, held a meeting with North civic body officials on Thursday. Monitoring committee member Bhure Lal said, “Special Provisions do not mean one enjoys complete immunity to violate all safety regulations.”
What is the Special Act
Under the NCT of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions), unauthorised colonies that existed as on March 31, 2002, or where construction took place up till February 8, 2007, are protected from punitive action till 2020. This means local authorities cannot act against encroachment or unauthorised development.
North MCD Mayor Adesh Gupta and commissioner Varsha Joshi had earlier said that the hotel — which came up in 1993 — was an “unauthorised construction” and was “booked” in 1993-1994, but it continued operations and enjoyed immunity once the Act came into effect in 2006.
Lal said the civic body and other agencies could have taken action on four violations that the team found during its inspection on Wednesday — the hotel had no adequate parking; its height was above 15 metres; the basement and top floor were used for commercial purposes, and the terrace was used to hold parties.
He said he was told that in the past two days, the North body has demolished portions of two-three hotels and guesthouses in the vicinity of Arpit Palace as they were using the terrace for commercial purposes and had extended construction. As per municipal rules, a guesthouse gets a licence only to operate a kitchen on the ground floor, while the terrace or basement cannot be used commercially.