New Delhi: Delhi high court on Friday showed concern over the absence of separate fire exits in most of the eateries in Hauz Khas Village.
With the horrific deaths in a Mumbai pub still fresh in mind, a bench of acting Chief justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar expressed concern over lack of fire safety measures and sought a response from the civic agencies.
The court asked South Delhi Municipal Corporation why it granted permission since 2013 to eateries despite complaints from the Archaeological Survey of India that constructions were going on within 100m of protected monuments.
HC’s poser came while hearing arguments by advocate Rajeev Yadav on PILs filed by activist Pankaj Sharma and advocate Anuja Kapur who have alleged that over 120 restaurants and pubs were running in Hauz Khas Village without any approved building plans or no objection certificate (NOC) from the authorities, including the fire department.
The court has repeatedly red flagged the absence of proper clearances in the congested zone and is monitoring steps taken by SDMC, Delhi Police and other agencies to ensure only those eateries function which have proper clearances.
Earlier, the court had termed Hauz Khas Village ‘a ticking time bomb’ pointing out that neither the government nor the restaurant owners have ensured fire safety.
It had then warned the associations of restaurants owners that they would not be allowed to escape civil and criminal liability in case any unfortunate incident takes place, as there is virtually no space for emergency vehicles to enter the area.
“Our repeated queries regarding quantum of solid waste (garbage) and sewage generated by these restaurants evoked no response from either the authorities or the restaurant owners,” it had then observed.
The petitioners have alleged that the streets are not wide enough for fire tender to move easily in case of an emergency and only a few restaurants have fire clearance, with the Delhi Fire Service admitting so in an affidavit.
HC saw merit in the submissions and had slammed the civic agencies for granting licences for the pubs and restaurants, which is in the heart of a densely populated area, without checking the ground reality.