The fire incident at a paying guest facility in north-west Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar could have been averted had the owner paid heed to repeated complaints to fix the faulty electrical wiring, said the occupants of the building who were caught in a massive blaze on Wednesday evening.
According to the authorities, a short circuit in an electricity meter panel led to the incident.
The police have lodged a case against the building owner and a probe is under way to determine if fire safety protocols were violated. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has also given directions to its Building Department to conduct a survey of the paying guest (PG) facilities in the Civil Lines zone.
Radhika Rajput (19), who lived in the three-storey building, said the inmates had complained to the owner multiple times to fix the faulty wiring, only to get a hostile response. “Instead of taking precautions, he would ask us to move out of the place,” said the civil service aspirant from Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor.
‘No one to the rescue’
Ankita Yadav, another inmate, said while tenets from nearby PG facilities and students from coaching institutes rushed to their rescue when the structure caught fire, local residents barely helped them. “Even the guards and employees of the PG facility were not there to help us escape,” said the 21-year-old SSC aspirant.
While the fire was quickly brought under control, local Resident Welfare Association (RWA) member Arvind Kumar said the situation could have turned worse had the gas cylinder kept in the building behind the one that caught fire not been removed from there. Despite the fact that such facilities with a large number of occupants are not allowed to keep LPG cylinders for cooking and run kitchens in the stilt areas, the owners continue to flout norms, he said.
Meanwhile, a few women and a minor girl who were hospitalised after the incident are currently undergoing treatment, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North West) Jitendra Meena said. As many as 35 people were rescued from the building.
The incident comes close on the heels of the MCD’s sealing drive against coaching centres operating without NOCs from the Fire Department. The MCD initiated the drive following a court order after a similar fire incident at a building from where multiple coaching centres were operating left 61 students injured.