The Aam Aadmi Party, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and others on Sunday blamed each other for the fire in Anaj Mandi in East Delhi in which 43 people were killed, PTI reported. While the BJP targeted the ruling Aam Aadmi Party for the incident, the Congress criticised both.
The fire broke out in the second floor of a four-storey building on Rani Jhansi Road around 5.22 am. The Delhi Fire Service said the building did not have a fire safety clearance or safety equipment. The building’s owner and manager have been arrested.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said overhead wires were left dangling in the area despite repeated complaints. Tiwari and Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the site and the injured at the hospital. Puri said the building’s occupants were given alternative places but the Delhi government did not move them.
Tiwari criticised Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for attending an inauguration event for a sewer-line project. “At a time when entire Delhi is shrouded in grief, 43 families have been devastated and many are injured... the Delhi chief minister is organising ‘Badhai Timarpur’ programme,” the BJP leader tweeted. “Kejriwal ji, how can be you so insensitive?”
Union minister Vijay Goel said the Arvind Kejriwal-led administration should have taken action against factories that operate in residential neighbourhoods. “Such incidents happen, inquiry is conducted but the government does not do anything,” he said. “Factories running in residential areas are to be provided plots at alternative places but the government did not do it.”
BJP legislator Manjinder Singh Sirsa called for Kejriwal’s resignation on “moral grounds”, and claimed state Minister for Home, Health and Industries Satyendar Jain should be removed from his post.
Delhi Congress Committee President Subhash Chopra blamed the state administration for the incident, but pointed out that Municipal Corporation of Delhi was ruled by the BJP, which was “equally responsible for it”.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh said if the factory was operating illegally then the municipal corporation was responsible for shutting it down, ANI reported. “How did MCD allow the factory to run?” he asked. “Delhi Fire Service has clarified that it didn’t give a no objection certificate to the factory.”
Singh said it was shameful that the BJP was politicising the matter instead of being accountable. He said the saffron party was responsible for issuing licences to manufacturing units.
Meanwhile, the Bihar government said it was trying to ascertain the names of those injured in the fire, and announced Rs 1-lakh compensation for the kin of those killed. State Water Resource Minister Sanjay Jha blamed the Delhi government for the accident and said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was monitoring the situation.
Earlier in the day, the Kejriwal government ordered an investigation into the incident and sought a report within seven days. The government also announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the families of those who died and Rs 1 lakh for those injured. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 2 lakh as compensation for the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
The incident is one of the worst fire accidents in the national Capital since the 1997 Uphaar Cinema blaze in which 59 people were killed and more than 100 were injured.