NHRC expresses serious concern over devastating fire incident in Mundka and reported callousness of authorities; calls for report from Delhi Government in two weeks; also decides to send its team immediately for an on the spot investigation

New Delhi, 15 th May, 2022

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that as many as 27 people died in a major fire in a four-storey office in Mundka, Delhi on 13.05.2022. Reportedly, this fire incident has once again established that the city authorities have learnt little from similar incidents in the past that exposed the utter lack of fire safety mechanisms and the gaping holes in their implementation.

The Commission has issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi to submit a report to the Commission within two weeks including action taken against the responsible authorities/ officers, fixing the culpability and status of disbursement of the relief/ rehabilitation granted by the government, if any.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has observed that going by the contents of media reports, this apperas to be the worst case of gross violation of human rights of the victims due to utter apathy and complete dereliction of statutory duties of public servants in the National capital of Delhi causing loss of valuable lives due to fire.

Looking into the gravity of the matter and observing that the authorities appear to have least bothered on its earlier recommendations in similar incidents in the past, the Commission has also asked its Director General to send a team immediately to conduct an on the spot investigation in the matter. According to the media reports, carried today on 15th May, 2022, the building had no sanctioned plan and the factory was operating without any licence. The fact has reportedly come out in an enquiry conducted by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. There are hundreds of such buildings are operational from congested quarters with authorities struggling to curb them. There are several areas in Delhi where even fire tenders cannot enter because of rampant unauthorised constructions.

According to a news report , a fire incident had occurred in Anaj Mandi area of Delhi in 2019 in which 43 people had lost life, and the National Human Rights Commission, taking suo-motu cognizance of the matter had directed the authorities to lay down an action plan to tackle the problem of illegal industrial activities in Delhi. Reportedly, a Special Task Force (STF) was formed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and an Inter-departmental Committee was formed by the MCD. The panel had submitted its action plan in the year 2020 and the STF gave its recommendations in 2021 but both have not yet been implemented.

Reportedly, the probe report for fixing culpability of officials in the Anaj Mandi fire incident was never made public. It is also mentioned in the news report that the Urban Development Department of the Government of NCT of Delhi had issued an order to Delhi Fire Service and the civic bodies, relaxing some of the norms,which were made strict after the earlier fire incidents occurred in Delhi.