Editorial: Man-made Tragedies Have To Stop

Editorial: Man-made Tragedies Have To Stop

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, May 27, 2024, 11:09 PM IST
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Representative Image | File

Two fire incidents in the space of 24 hours in Gujarat’s Rajkot and the national capital that claimed many lives, including tragically those of children, showed what a low premium is placed on human life in India as safety regulations are regularly overlooked while the authorities turn a blind eye to these blatant violations. In the fire at a gaming arena in Rajkot, 28 were killed, including four children, while 40 others were rescued from the blaze. A few hours later a fire at a children’s hospital in Delhi’s Vivek Vihar killed six new-borns. Investigations revealed that the fire safety clearance had yet to be procured by the Rajkot gaming zone which was initially set up in a shed-like structure to circumvent municipal approvals. Subsequently a three-storey facility was established. The fire probably originated from welding work on a ladder but with only one staircase visitors on the second and third floors were trapped leading to more casualties. The rates for the gaming zone were slashed from Rs 500 to Rs 99 for the weekend and holiday period, leading to a huge influx of visitors. It is obvious that safety protocols were not being followed, leading to this unspeakable tragedy.

In the Delhi hospital fire case, it was found that the hospital did not have the necessary fire safety precautions, oxygen cylinders were being stored illegally, the doctor in charge of the neo-natal unit did not have the requisite experience to handle new-borns and there was only one narrow exit making it difficult for fire personnel to evacuate people and douse the blaze. Inquiries have been ordered in both cases, the negligent owners have been arrested and all the platitudes regarding stern action against the culprits have been mouthed but everyone knows that these incidents will soon be forgotten by all but the grieving families who have lost their loved ones, till the next such tragedy strikes. No lessons are learnt whereby such man-made disasters can be prevented. Authorities regularly overlook violations of safety protocols, perhaps for an under-the-table payment. Can one forget the Uphaar fire which resulted in the tragic loss of 59 lives? It was only the perseverance of the victims’ families that led to the case reaching its logical conclusion and apt punishment being meted out to the culprits after the case dragged on for years. More such incidents are waiting to happen. It is only if the municipal and fire safety authorities do a thorough audit of all dangerous structures and buildings, and order immediate remedial action in cases where safety protocols are being violated, that such tragedies can be prevented.

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