Market body says canít recall last fire inspection

Buildings 1810 and 1811 were still burning but the blame game had already begun between the Chandni Chowk market association and the Fire department.

The president of the market association alleged that the Fire department never inspected the area to check if fire safety measures were in place. The department, on the other hand, claimed that most buildings in the area were unauthorised and did not comply with fire safety norms.

Bal Krishan Jindal, president of Delhi Electrical Traders' Association, told Newsline: "No inspection has ever been done by the Fire department to check if safety measures are in place. We have a few fire extinguishers inside the godowns and offices, but this kind of fire cannot be handled using those equipment."

He said several letters had been sent to the Power department about the loose overhead electricity cables but no action was taken.

"I guess that they were waiting for a mishap like this to take some concrete action," Jindal said.

A Fire official said most of the buildings in the area are old and dilapidated. The architectural plans of the buildings are not cleared by municipal bodies and do not meet requirements of safe buildings.

"Most were built in the 1930s and so do not fulfil or adhere to fire safety guidelines," a Fire official said. "They do not maintain the buildings or take necessary precautions to avoid mishaps. These buildings have small working area, where they have several electronic devices running. This puts a lot of load on the grid, leading to short-circuits and even fire," the official said.

A senior municipal official of City Zone said no notice has been served to traders in Bhagirath Palace area for not paying conversion tax on mixed-lane use.

Yogendra Mann, director of press and information, said: "Licence department has the right to challan these traders, but they cannot take any other action against them."

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