Lack of Safety and Accountability Measures Lands Karol Bagh Hoteliers in Legal Trouble

NEWS/DELHI

In the case of Karol Bagh hotel fire the Delhi government has filed a charge sheet against the owners of the hotel. The lack of public accountability and absence of safety measures led to the death of seventeen people while many others were injured.

Kabir | The New Leam

The lack of public accountability and absence of safety measures led to the death of seventeen people while many others were injured.

In February, 2019 nearly 50 people were injured and 17 people died in the massive fire that broke out at the rooftop kitchen of Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. At the time of the incident the fire rescue team was able to manage the fire but most of the damage was done even before their arrival.

The hotel was owned by two brothers Rakesh Goel and Sharad Indu Goel, against whom the FIR was lodged and investigation was taking place to know the correct reason of the fire.

The investigation report that has been released by the Delhi Police this week states that “it was sheer negligence which caused the fire and took away innocent lives.”

Delhi Police claimed that all the security documents submitted by owners were forged, including the fire security license, restaurant license, property license etc.

The Police claimed that the owners did the forgery to remain in business; the restaurant was about to shut years before but the forged document helped the brothers to take extension and run the restaurant illegally.

Apparently, the restaurant is a mortgaged property, one of the owners, Rakesh Goel, took 50 crore rupees loan from the bank by mortgaging the hotel in order to invest in his son’s newly established business. Unfortunately the son’s business proved to be a failure and all the money that was invested was lost.

In order to evade the formalities and maintenance process of a high rise building the owners forged the height of the building showing it to be a three storey building but after careful investigation it was reported that the building had a height of 4 storey apartments, which crossed the apartment height limit in Delhi.

Apart from that the entire structure and the architecture of the building was not at all fire friendly, as the 35 room hotel had wooden corridors with varnish, a material that multiplies fire.

Delhi government has ordered for a magisterial inquiry in the case and the Chief Minister of the State Arvind Kejriwal has announced Rs. 5 lakhs compensation to the family of the victims.

The charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police, as reported by NDTV read “The police has charged Rakesh Goel, his brother Sharad Indu Goel, hotel’s general manager Rajender Kumar and manager Vikas Kumar for offences of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy. In furtherance of procurement of the licenses, after expiry of the validity period of the licenses, forged Certificates & Affidavits were also submitted. It is obvious during investigation that license was obtained disclosing false and in correct facts. Role of various officials of different government departments is being investigated. It is claimed that the brothers used fake structural stability certificates by a fake architect company “BL Chabbra & Associate” to obtain licenses.

The building was an unauthorized construction without any approved building plan/ completion certificate from Municipal Corporation of Delhi. None of the directives issued by the Delhi Fire Service has been complied with by the owners the hotel.

During investigation some of the fire safety arrangements were found missing or non-operational. None of the staff so employed at the hotel was a trained in fire-fighting neither were they aware about basic drill in Fire Safety. The information regarding deviation in construction/renovation was never been provided to Delhi Fire Service.

The charge sheet further read that the owners did not comply with any of the norms enacted in Delhi Fire Service Act, and Delhi Fire Service Rules, but they solely with common intent acted hand-in-glove with each other to make profit out of their business, without caring about the lives and property of the guests staying in their guest house”.

 

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