Was Anaj Mandi Fire a Disaster Waiting to Happen?
Old, tangled wires and narrow lanes, the Anaj Mandi fire has raised serious questions regarding safety.
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad
Video Producer: Hera Khan
The Anaj Mandi factory fire, which claimed at least 43 lives, early on Sunday, 8 December morning, is one of the most severe fire accidents Delhi has faced but could have been prevented.
Although officials have not yet identified the cause of the fire, eyewitnesses told The Quint that a short circuit might have led to the blaze. A visit to the site raised several questions regarding the lack of safety provisions with which the fire could have been avoided.
Congested Lanes, Tangled Wires
The factory where fire broke out is located in a narrow and densely populated lane. The exit gate leads to a busy market, leaving almost no room for people to escape in case of an emergency. The lane further has old and tangled cables, which increase risk of fire accidents.
Speaking to The Quint, Irfan, an RTI Activist from the area, said that a similar fire had broken out in the area five years previously.
“A similar fire broke out in this area around five years ago. The official at that time tried to cover-up the entire incident by destroying the proof. Multiple factories in this area are working without a licence. The police is hand-in-glove with the culprits.”Irfan, RTI Activist
He went on, “Many people have complained against these wires, which are running close to the residential buildings in the area. However, no action has been taken. The same person who owns this factory has multiple other shops here. Former BJP Councillor Imran Ismail also owns shops in the area.”
Factory That Caught Fire Made Plastic Goods
The fire broke out on the second floor of a factory that made plastic goods, and the raw material used for doing so is very flammable.
Speaking to The Quint, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta activist Sunny Singh said that the incident was clearly a result of the government’s carelessness. He added that most factories in the region do not comply with the guidelines of the Factories Act.
“This is a clear case of MCD’s failure. Only yesterday, a fire broke out at a factory approximately 150 meters away from this one,” he added.
Did MCD Violate Safety Guidelines in the Area?
Thick electric cables can be seen hanging close to buildings in the residential area, which also functions as a marketplace. This puts the entire complex at a risk of fire accidents in the event of a short-circuit.
Several activists and locals told The Quint that a complaint has been registered against the same multiple times to no avail. “We have registered multiple complaints. However, the MCD has not taken any action so far,” RTI activist Irfan asserted.
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