oppn parties Mumbai Fire Tragedy: The Rot Runs Deeper

News Snippets

  • Supreme Court warns Rahul Gandhi to be more careful in future but drops contempt proceedings in the "chor" case
  • In a flip-flop, Vodafone CEO says sorry to the government, sys no plan to exit India
  • Sabarimala case referred to a larger bench as the court says several contentious issues need deeper examination
  • 16 killed as the vehicle they were traveling in plunged into a deep gorge near Jammu
  • Vodafone CEO seeks government relief, saying India operations on the verge of collapse
  • Three teenagers killed in a major accident in Kolkata's New Town area when their Honda City rammed into a road divider and a Metro pillar. The car was mangled
  • Vishwa Hindu Parishad not to publicly 'celebrate' Babri Masjid demolition day this year, all events will be closed door
  • JNU students march against the steep hike in fees, keep HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal stuck at the venue of the convocation
  • USFDA says Cytotron, an anti-cancer kit developed by Bengaluru based Rajah Vijay Kumar, is a "breakthrough device" for treating liver, pancreatic and breast cancers
  • Car sales show a minuscule uptrend after declining continuously for 11 months
  • Industrial output contracts by 4.3% in September, the worst decline in 8 years
  • Centre defends abrogation of Article 370 in the Supreme Court, says the power under it was used by the President six times previously
  • Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar admitted to hospital with lung infection, put on ventilator
  • Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant quits as Union Minister
  • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met the leaders of both Hindus and Muslims in Delhi on Sunday to ensure peace and harmony is maintained after the Ayodhya verdict
Supreme Court dismisses plea for review in Rafale case, says no need for roving inquiry, maintains clean chit to government
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Mumbai Fire Tragedy: The Rot Runs Deeper

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The tragic fire at the Mumbai restobar that killed 14 and injured several others is a prime example of how unscrupulous businessmen collude with corrupt officials to flout all norms and endanger lives. The matter is not only of flouting fire safety norms – the rot runs deeper. In the instant case, it has come to light that the bar’s licence was renewed just 10 days ago. How could it be renewed if the fire safety clearance was not okay? There is a loophole in the law which prescribes that eateries with a seating capacity below 50 do not need fire safety clearance. This loophole is exploited to the hilt and eateries generally cram in double the number by keeping extra chairs and spare tables – especially in the busy season.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Maharashtra government has suspended 5 officers of the BMC. The civic body has also gone into a much publicized overdrive to demolish illegal structures. But no one has come out with an explanation as to how these were allowed to exist in the first place. Are there no checks and measures in civic bodies? What about accountability? Officers cannot allow this to happen on their own – higher-ups are involved and the gravy train goes right up to the top. Unless a non-negotiable value is put on people’s lives at the very top, the lower rung of bureaucracy will always trade it for a few thousand rupees.

It is not just Mumbai where this is going on brazenly. All Indian cities and towns suffer from this malady. With commercial space in up market locations in cities and towns getting squeezed, there is a huge incentive – and greater returns – to make illegal constructions and change the profile of existing ones. This is one area that should be the prime concern of all civic bodies. If they can focus on specific areas that are becoming commercial hubs with specially formed teams that have well defined accountability, their revenue will also increase and they will be able to identify vulnerable spots in time. This will make them prevent tragedies rather than display knee-jerk reactions once they happen. But the politicians and the bureaucracy of no civic body will allow this as it will mean foregoing millions of rupees in ill-gotten income which they have become used to. Meanwhile, tragedies will continue to happen and people will continue to die.