Gujarat HC comes down heavily on Rajkot civic body over game zone fire tragedy - Hindustan Times
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Gujarat HC comes down heavily on Rajkot civic body over game zone fire tragedy

May 27, 2024 06:59 PM IST

The Gujarat high court asked the Rajkot Municipal Corporation officials whether they were asleep or had gone blind

The Gujarat high court on Monday came down heavily on the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) over Saturday’s massive fire that claimed 28 lives, including children, at an unauthorised gaming zone in the city.

Twenty people, including children, were killed in a fire that broke out at an unauthorised gaming zone in Gujarat’s Rajkot on Saturday. (AFP)
Twenty people, including children, were killed in a fire that broke out at an unauthorised gaming zone in Gujarat’s Rajkot on Saturday. (AFP)

A special bench comprising justices Biren Vaishnav and Devan Desai expressed lack of faith in the State machinery, questioning how such a tragedy could occur despite previous court orders on fire safety.

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The scathing remarks came after it was revealed that the gaming zone operators had not obtained mandatory permissions and licenses from the RMC. The court reprimanded the officials, saying, “All this was going on for two-and-a-half years, so did you fall asleep? Or did you go blind?”

When the RMC informed the court that the gaming zone did not seek permission, the bench pointed out that it was their responsibility too. “Even after four years of our order, if no steps were taken in the matter of fire safety, then how is the RMC not responsible?” it said.

The court also strongly criticised the civic body after photographs of officials at the gaming zone surfaced, demanding, “What were these officers doing there? Did they go to play?”

In connection with the fire, the Gujarat government has ordered the suspension of six officials - RMC’s town planning department assistant engineer Jaideep Chaudhary, assistant town planner Gautam Joshi, Rajkot Roads and Buildings department’s deputy executive engineers MR Suma and Paras Kothiya, and police inspectors VR Patel and NI Rathod.

The fire, which broke out on Saturday, is believed to have been caused by welding work being carried out at the facility, which lacked a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department and had only one entry-exit point. Several liters of petrol and diesel were stored at the zone, exacerbating the situation.

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