Fire accidents are so frequent that lives lost to fire have become statistics. This is sad indeed and worse is the fact that no lessons are learnt to and case studies show that the same errors, blunders and offences keep repeating. One such incident that depicts how destructive fire accidents can be is the Haryana School Fire Accident (23 December 1995). It is recorded as one of India’s Worst Fire Disasters costing more than 400 lives. The fire was triggered by a short circuit in a generator during the school event. It was a matter of 7 minutes to endanger the crowd as the synthetic tent used for the event caught fire. The only exit available was also blocked leaving very little space to avoid the tent.


Cut to March 7, 2022, expressing displeasure over the Maharashtra government's inaction on the formalisation of the Draft Special Regulations for buildings vulnerable to man-made disasters, Bombay High Court asked the authorities to say why it is being delayed and whether it will be done or not. The high court said that it was "appalled" at the way the state delayed replying on the issue. While dictating the order, the court said, "Reluctantly, we grant the state ten days' time to file an affidavit and place on record whether final notification is contemplated to be issued. If not, reasons therefore must be indicated. The petitioner would have a week's time to file a rejoinder."


The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Abha Singh seeking enforcement of fire safety in buildings vulnerable to man-made disasters.


The draft regulations had come into existence after the 26/11 terror attacks that took place in 2008. These regulations were issued in February 2009 seeking objections and suggestions from the public. The government had said that they were issued in urgent public interest. However, after public sent their suggestions and objections, nothing further was done till today.


Procrastination has been the hallmark of governance in India for decades and it cuts across states and party affiliations. Priorities are never clearly defined and demarcated and red tape does the rest. Despite the NBC, builders and developers rarely abide by the bare basics on fire safety and exigency. When the inevitable happens, the blame game begins and the usual excuses are resorted to. Let’s hope the court delivers a telling verdict and it makes a REAL difference.



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