The massive fire at a hotel in New Delhi during the wee hours of Tuesday has highlighted a lot of questions regarding the safety of people in the commercial and residential spaces.
The fire at the 35-room Hotel Arpit Palace has left 17 people dead and many severely injured and has come as a shocker to the nation. The questions that arise are now if the safety norms and regulations are being properly followed by hotels? If so then how are such tribulations becoming very common, mostly in growing cities?
Delhi's Urban Development Minister Satyendar Jain has commented over the accident saying, authorities appeared to have been negligent in enforcing building laws in the surrounding area, reports Reuters.
"Even though the law limits construction only to four floors, the hotel had an illegal fifth floor, like some other nearby structures, Jain said, adding that a kitchen and dining area on its top floor constituted another violation," the report added.
"Magistrate enquiry ordered. Visible violations of building bye-laws, building constructed 6 stories including one temporary floor instead of permissible 4 floors. Ordered fire inspection of buildings in the area," he tweeted.
Raids and surveys have been conducted frequently to ensure that safety measures and procedures are properly followed by the establishments. But even after such precautionary measures, it has failed to prevent such incidents.
An outbreak of pandemic violations by the builders have been reported by the authorities in all expanding cities, yet no stringent actions have been taken against them.
On February 7, a major fire had broken out at Metro Hospitals and Heart Institute in Noida Sector-12. The hospital authorities had got a fire and safety license in 2017 and did not get it renewed, said Arun Kumar Singh, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of Gautam Budh Nagar.
According to a 2017 report by TOI, around 90 per cent of buildings in the national capital do not comply with safety norms and there are over 1,700 illegal colonies with more than 50 lakh people living in them, where the resident's safety has been compromised, as per to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava.
"The petitioner claimed that illegal constructions have come up in violation of the National Building Code 2005 for seismic zone IV, in which Delhi falls, and the order of the high court that no building should be allowed to come up without complying with the norms," the report added.
Illegal construction, encroachment and violation of safety norms have deteriorated seriously in Delhi and many other cities due to its growing population and rising demands.
Concerned over this issue, in 2018, the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry had established a 15-member special task force (STF) to ensure enforcement of building rules and Master Plan for Delhi-2021. But with the mishaps that have occurred recently, all these expedients have turned futile.