Car showroom to warehouse: Scene of tragedy had many faces

A top official of the north Delhi civic body said a preliminary investigation suggested that the building may not have had a valid fire safety certificate.
Firefighters try to douse the fire that broke out in a building near Mundka metro station, in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)
Firefighters try to douse the fire that broke out in a building near Mundka metro station, in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)
Updated on May 14, 2022 06:01 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

Even as senior state and administration officials said they would launch an inquiry into the legal status of the building on the main Rohtak Road in Mundka, where a fire left at least 27 dead on Friday, the area’s industrial welfare association said it served as a home for a host of commercial activities, including a car showroom, office spaces, and a backend for a medical laboratory.

“A car showroom used to operate from this property earlier. The building has also been rented by several outlets,” Sunil Chadha, the general secretary of the Mundka industrial area society said.

“To the best of the association’s knowledge, the building had a license to operate a commercial enterprise,” he said.

The first floor, where the fire broke out, housed the office of a firm that manufactures CCTV cameras and Wi-Fi routers, fire department and police officials said. The association also said the property met the conditions necessary to operate a commercial outlet. “As far as we know, the width of the staircase and other conditions were met, but it seems the incident took place despite that,” he added.

The Mundka industrial area has units engaged in manufacturing machinery parts, equipment and metallic parts and the municipal corporation issues licenses to units operating in the area, association said.

“Agricultural land on outskirts of the area was used for plastic waste segregation till a few years back,” a member of the association said.

The property falls on the main Rohtak Road, connecting Haryana and Delhi.

Anil Lakra, the area’s councillor from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), did not comment on the incident.

A senior Delhi government official, requesting anonymity, said, an inquiry will be ordered about the incident and the status of the building, whether it has all the requisite permissions or not.

The AAP’s Mundka MLA Dharampal Lakra said, “The building was located in the non-conforming industrial area. I’ll be able to give more details on Saturday.”

Jogi Ram Jain, the standing committee chairman of the north MCD said that the commissioner and senior officials of the civic body are at the site of fire accident and if any municipal official’s fault is found in the inquiry strict action will be taken.

“A short circuit is being said to be the cause of fire. As per preliminary information, the building did not have a valid fire certificate,” Jain said.

There are 25 non-conforming areas (those not authorised by the Delhi government and mostly run from villages and unauthorised colonies) in city.

The 25 industrial clusters, which have been notified in batches since 2005, operate in areas that are part of rural villages (non-conforming areas) such as Khayala, Peeragarhi, Mundka, Hastsal, Anand Parbat, among others.

These clusters have been notified for redevelopment by the Delhi government as there are 70% or more industries operating in these areas.

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Monday, May 23, 2022