Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] Lethal misgovernance: On Anaj Mandi fire tragedy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Fire Safety in India

Context

The deadly fire at an unregistered bag factory in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area killed 43 workers.

Worker Safety

  • This is a reminder that for every big industrial unit shown as evidence of an emerging power, there are scores of ratholes in which workers toil under crushing, dangerous conditions. 
  • Poorly paid laborers live and work in several residential buildings turned into unregistered factories. 
  • Most of them came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and virtually slept at night next to the machines they worked on. 
  • If the probe confirms that the victims were locked in and obstructed by materials stacked on staircases, the culpability of the respondents would be enormously higher. 
  • Several people could escape through the narrow approach to the stricken building and a mass of tangled wires. 
  • Though the owner and the manager have been arrested, administrative agencies cannot escape responsibility for allowing the factory and other such units to function illegally, without safety audits.

State of Fire safety – Governance

  • This is the third deadliest building fire in the national capital in two decades.
  • Delhi’s Chief Minister has been blaming the lack of complete authority and obstruction by the Centre for his party not being able to deliver on a broader development agenda. 
  • Public safety cannot be allowed to fall victim to this irresponsible wrangling.
  • A reason for the chaotic urban development is the compact arrived between governments and violators. 
  • This allows rezoning to accommodate illegal commercial establishments in residential zones, weak enforcement of regulations and post facto regularisation of illegalities.
  • The culpability of building owners, as in the Uphaar Cinema case, has not been dealt with sternly.

Way ahead

  • Political parties, civil society, and government must chart a new plan to make the older, built-up areas safe. 
  • The Supreme Court of India has come down on municipal authorities in Delhi in the past for this.
  • Rules under the new occupational safety code must be strong enough to protect workers. 
  • Less government and lax enforcement is bad policy.
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