Mark an emergency lane at Nehru Place: Delhi high court orders authorities

The directions passed by a bench of justices Manmohan and Navin Chawla came on hearing over poor safety measures in the busy market where a fire incident took place in August.
A fire broke out on the first floor of a building at Nehru Place on August 12 this year. The Delhi high court initiated a petition by itself, after it was alleged that emergency vehicles could not reach the spot during to encroachments and lack of ramps. (ANI Photo)
A fire broke out on the first floor of a building at Nehru Place on August 12 this year. The Delhi high court initiated a petition by itself, after it was alleged that emergency vehicles could not reach the spot during to encroachments and lack of ramps. (ANI Photo)
Updated on Oct 08, 2021 02:58 AM IST
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By Richa Banka, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi high court on Thursday directed the authorities to earmark a lane for unhindered movement of fire engines and ambulances at Nehru Place, and sought a status report within 15 days containing suggestions and observations.

The directions passed by a bench of justices Manmohan and Navin Chawla came on hearing over poor safety measures in the busy market where a fire incident took place in August.

The bench directed the Delhi Police, Delhi Development Authority and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to conduct an inspection within the next fortnight in the area and file the status report.

The court itself initiated a plea after the August 12 fire incident. On Thursday, it said that only verified vendors will be allowed to squat in the area. “This court directs SDMC, DDA and Delhi Police to ensure that no other individual or entity other than 95 vendors, hawk in and around Nehru Place. Even the identities of the 95 vendors shall be verified and the respondents shall ensure that the vendors comply with the terms and conditions of Tehbazari/vending,” the bench said.

While initiating the PIL, the court had said that the enormity of the problem caused by hawkers and vendors in the Nehru Place area is shown in the difficulty faced by the fire tenders in accessing the building where fire broke out due to a short circuilt.

During the hearing, advocate Divya Prakash Pande, who was representing SDMC, told the court that despite the specific area being delineated for hawking, the vendors are not restricting themselves to the area. He further said that only 95 vendors have interim orders in their favour from the Supreme Court and the high court to operate from the area.

Pande also told the court that the hawkers are not complying with the terms of Tehbazari/conditions of vending. He also stated that out of 95 street vendors who have injunction in their favour, 33 have filed petitions in the high court while 62 street vendors who are part of Manushi Sangathan have filed petitions before the Supreme Court.

The Delhi Fire Service (DFS) told the court that it had conducted a mock drill in Nehru Place area and highlighted the challenges that emergency services face in the area.

The fire services told the court that none of the vehicles (fire engine, ambulance) could reach the incident spot on August 12. It said that fire tenders could only reach up to the upper plaza, and lower plaza was not reachable for the vehicles.

It also said that the time taken by the first fire unit was 11 minutes, and as the lower plaza was not approachable to fire units, pitching of rescue vehicles like hydraulic platforms was not possible.

“The time taken by the various agencies was too much, which indicates that there are significant hindrances due to heavy pedestrian movement, heavy traffic, hawkers and parking problems,” the fire services said.

The DFS recommended that all the entries to the upper plaza as well as lower plaza should be cleared of boom barriers, barricades, etc, adding that the market may be made a hawker-free zone. It also said that all levels in the market must be made approachable to fire engines by making a minimum six-metre wide motorable road/ramps.

Taking note, the court said that the issue is “serious” and asked the authorities to take necessary steps.

“DCP (Traffic) will ensure that the said lane (emergency vehicles lane) is not encroached upon, and is always free for movement for fire brigade and ambulance,” the court said.

The matter will now be heard on November 10.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021