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  Opinion   Edit  28 May 2024  AA Edit | Ignoring fire safety norms is proving very costly for India

AA Edit | Ignoring fire safety norms is proving very costly for India

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 28, 2024, 12:55 am IST
Updated : May 28, 2024, 12:55 am IST

Tragic fire incidents reveal negligence and greed behind safety lapses

Passersby look at the charred building of the Baby Care Hospital after a fire broke out here on Sunday, in east Delhi, Monday, May 27, 2024. Seven newborns were killed and five others injured in the incident, according to officials. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist Lav)
 Passersby look at the charred building of the Baby Care Hospital after a fire broke out here on Sunday, in east Delhi, Monday, May 27, 2024. Seven newborns were killed and five others injured in the incident, according to officials. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist Lav)

The loss of 40 lives, mostly infants and young children, in two fire incidents in two parts of the country on consecutive days could be passed off as accidents but even a cursory look at the reports on them would reveal a pattern in them: a pattern of greedy businessmen ignoring the mandates of the law on people’s safety and the total negligence on the part of the agencies concerned to enforce laws that are made to protect human lives and prevent loss of property.

The inexcusable Delhi hospital fire that has cost the lives of seven babies had exhausted its licence in March this year, and had no equipment or tools to fight a fire should they trigger. Normally, such an institution would require extra care and attention, especially since children, who cannot defend themselves, are the most vulnerable in emergencies. And the intensive care unit for the babies, given its closed environs and the presence of oxygen cylinders in it, is a real cause for concern and would demand additional precautionary measures. 

A hospital which does not have the mandatory licence and qualified doctors cannot be expected to keep the safety of its patients at the top of its agenda. The authorities, who failed to institute a mechanism to ensure that institutions and business establishments regularly renew their licences after meeting the requirements of the law, which invariably include fire safety norms, are also to blame for the death of the innocent children.

As for the fire in the gaming zone in Rajkot in Gujarat, where 33 people perished, the police have now found out that the facility has been functioning for the last four years without the mandatory no objection certificate from the fire service department. Worse, it neither had firefighting equipment nor trained personnel to attend a fire should it report one. It appears that the entrepreneur cared two hoots for the safety of the hundreds of people who would converge there for entertainment and relaxation. 

The Gujarat high court, which has suo motu taken cognizance of the incident, has rightly pointed that it was a man-made disaster. The bench which made a special sitting on Sunday also observed that such facilities have of late cropped up across the state without necessary approvals. There were also reports that such gaming zones took advantage of the loopholes in the law.

The collective failure of the local self-governments and the state governments in enforcing the laws on people’s safety has contributed its share into the tragic loss of lives. Aspects of fire safety have not been given it due in India despite the surge in population and in the fire incidents. Most states report huge shortage of manpower in the fire service departments and little has been done to correct the situation over the decades. 

India is at present the fifth largest economy in the world and is on its way to become the third and hence it must introduce safety norms of global standards and ensure their strict enforcement. There must be adequate number of properly trained manpower with latest tools and technologies to respond to emergencies. It is unacceptable that innocent lives are snuffed out due to business greed and administrative lethargy.

 

Tags: delhi fire, fire accident, aa edit