Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh, where a fire killed 17 people, was a repeat offender in the record books of the municipal corporation, with action being taken against the hotel 16 times in eight months between 1993 and 1994. While the corporation conducted demolition activities 11 times on the property, five times it was “booked” for construction violations.
Booking a property means the violation has been noted in record books of the corporation for further action.
The hotel was booked five times between June 1993 and January 1994 — the first time for unauthorised construction in the basement, and then for illegal building on first, second, third and fourth floors. It was also booked for “laying a roof on the fifth floor”. It was also booked for illegal construction of shutter, pillar walls, roof, a reinforced cement concrete tank and a lift room.
Standing committee member and AAP leader Vikas Goel said the hotel kept adding additional floors year after year, and the corporation kept taking action, but eventually it was the hotel that had its way — exceeding the permissible height of 15 metres and violating safety norms such as kitchens in the basement and on the terrace. After 1994, the hotel appears to have fallen off the authorities’ radar.
In 2006, the Special Provisions Act came into force, virtually giving immunity to the hotel owner from demolition. Under the Act, which has been extended till 2020, unauthorised constructions before 2006 cannot be demolished. “This shows that either he (the owner) did not fear the law or it was done in connivance with officials,” standing committee member and Congress leader Mukesh Goel said.
According to official documents, demolition action was first taken on a wall and portions of the ground floor in June 1993. Five days later, shutters in the basement were removed and parts of walls were demolished.
In the same month, demolition action was taken twice more for erecting illegal walls. In the coming months, a balcony on the first floor and columns on the third floor were removed. Eight windows were also removed in January 1994.
The data was provided by civic bodies in the standing committee meeting of the North Corporation Friday. Standing committee member Veena Virmani said the committee will take the offences into consideration in their report.