Fire hazard at Delhi hangouts: No action despite high court prod
Public interest litigations have alleged that the restaurants and pubs in the two areas are running in contravention of the safety rules, prompting the high court to seek reports from the authorities concerned.Updated: Dec 29, 2017 23:46 IST
The Delhi High Court had termed Delhi’s popular hangouts in Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village “ticking time bomb” and “fire traps” over their poor safety preparedness while hearing various petitions this year.
Public interest litigations have alleged that the restaurants and pubs in the two areas are running in contravention of the safety rules, prompting the high court to seek reports from the authorities concerned.
A bunch of petitions claim that many eateries and pubs in the Hauz Khas Village are running without approved building plans or no objection certificate (NOC) from the authorities, including the fire department.
The court had directed authorities, including the Delhi Police, Delhi Fire Services and South Delhi Municipal Corporation, to submit reports in the matter.
The Delhi Fire Services (DFS) had told the court that the roads in the area were so narrow that there was no space for the fire engines to turn.
In a report filed in August , the SDMC said that there were 63 restaurants/eating houses/ health trades in the Hauz Khas Village. In the same affidavit, the SDMC noted violations in 49 of those establishments. The Delhi Police pointed out that only 46 licences were valid. As per the DFS, only five restaurants were granted fire safety certificate.
“In the circumstances and the reports placed before us, whatever be the final decision, we have no manner of doubt that in case there is a mishap or any loss of life or limb in the present case, the restaurant owners will not be permitted or allowed to escape the liability, civil and criminal for the same,” the court said.
In another matter, the Delhi High Court in October last year said that restaurants operating from the first floor flats of Khan Market were a “fire hazard and a fire trap” with no proper measures for escape in the event of fire.
It was observed that the flats in Khan Market, most of which have now been turned into commercial establishments, were constructed for residential purposes. Most of them have narrow staircases which pose a threat to customers in the event of fire.
The court had said that this was yet another instance of the ‘public-private partnership’ of municipal and police authorities with the flat and restaurant owners showing scant regard for human life.
It made it clear that restaurant and eateries will be liable for the loss or damages to life or property of anyone from any incident of fire in their premises.