oppn parties Mumbai Fire Tragedy: The Rot Runs Deeper

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  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says PoK in Indian territory and the country hopes to have physical jurisdiction over it one day
  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
  • All 6 Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs merge with the Congress in Rajasthan
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to meet PM Modi on Wednesday, state issues on the agenda
  • Pakistan to open Kartarpur corridor on Nov 9
  • Rajeev Kumar, ex-police commissioner of Kolkata and wanted for questioning in the Sarada scam does not appear before the CBI despite the state administration requesting him to do so
  • Supreme Court asks the Centre to restore normalcy in J&K but keeping national interest in mind
  • As Trump accepts the invitation to attend a programme in Houston with PM Modi, India rushes to settle trade issues with US
  • After drone attack on Aramco's Suadi Arabia facility, oil prices jump 19% in intra-day trading causing worries for India
  • Imran Khan raises nuclear war bogey again, says if Pakistan loses a conventional war, it might fight till the end with its nuclear arsenal
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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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.