Citing Parel fire, SC says corruption has gnawed into town planning

August 24, 2018 03:13 pm | Updated 08:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI

People are dying in building collapses and fires because corruption has eaten into town planning and grant of building permits across the country, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

Referring to the recent fire which engulfed Crystal Tower in Parel, Mumbai, Justice Madan B. Lokur said thousands of buildings in Mumbai are unsafe and innocent lives are lost in the mire of corruption.

“In Mumbai, people are dying. We are talking about deaths here. Only recently there was a huge fire at Kamala Mills, no lesson was learnt.. How long will this situation continue? How many lives more?” Justice Lokur said.

Justice Lokur said there are so many residential buildings being used for commercial purposes also.

“There are about 51,000 homes used for commercial purposes in Delhi,” he remarked. He was indicating to how mixed use of buildings for commercial and residential purposes increases the risk for residents.

Justice Deepak Gupta, the other judge on the Bench, said “everything is collapsing”.

“You make laws and then you make a mockery of these laws,” Justice Gupta observed.

The 16-storey Crystal Tower had shops on the ground floor, parking on the first three floors followed by three flats each on the upper floors. Four people were killed and 23, including three firemen, suffered injuries in the blaze.

“We are monitoring Delhi, but what about the rest of the country?” Justice Lokur asked Additional Solicitor General A.N.S Nadkarni, for the Centre.

Mr. Nadkarni said town planning was a State subject and probably respective high courts should galvanise into action.

“A person spends over ₹50 lakh and buys a home. Later, you tell him his home is illegal and he cannot live there. What is that person supposed to do now? Centre cannot say it has no role and fold its hands,” Justice Lokur addressed Mr. Nadkarni.

Justice Lokur further asked “What is the point of having so many authorities when nothing is being done”.

The court was hearing the Delhi sealing case concerning illegal constructions in the Capital.

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