Delhi market blaze: Traders blame poor infrastructure for fire, demand compensation from govt

NewsDrum Desk
25 Nov 2022

New Delhi, Nov 25 (PTI) Traders in Bhagirath Palace have blamed narrow lanes, poor infrastructure, and inflammable material for the blaze in the wholesale market and the delay in fire tenders reaching the spot.

The firefighting operations were "poorly executed" due to which the fire spread to several shops and caused losses worth "hundreds of crores", they claimed while demanding financial compensation from the government.

The fire broke out at around 9 pm on Thursday in a shop in Mahalaxmi Market and soon spread to adjacent ones, all dealing in electrical appliances, officials said.

Around 100 shops in the wholesale market in Chandni Chowk were gutted. No injuries have been reported so far, police said.

According to the traders, they have suffered cumulative losses of more than Rs 400 crore.

Sanjay Kumar, who has an electronic shop and warehouse in the market, arrived early morning to assess the damage. His shop was about 50 metres from the building that first caught fire.

"The fire has reached my godown. The fire department has sprayed water now. I think it has doused," said Kumar.

"The lanes here are narrow and the infrastructure is of British era. No repair work has been done and no precaution has been taken. See the mesh of hanging wires... This tragedy was imminent," he said pointing towards spaghetti-like cables lurking overhead.

He also alleged that the poor execution of the firefighting operation is responsible for the fire spreading of several shops.

"The fire could have been doused earlier but the water pressure was low," he claimed.

Located in the heart of Chandni Chowk, the market is a famous electronics market as the majority of the shops in the area sell electrical appliances. The traders claimed that they get customers from across the country and the world.

The traders also blamed unauthorised kiosks in the common area for delaying the firefighting operations.

“The fire department first had to demolish several kiosks as vehicles were not able to enter the narrow lanes. The lanes are already narrow and the unauthorised kiosks make the situation worse,” said a trader Rajendra.

The traders also accused the authorities of not taking corrective measures to resolve the persisting infrastructural problems, which cause frequent fires in the area.

They also demanded compensation from the government for the losses they have incurred.

"We have written to the Delhi government a lot of times to take corrective measures in the market but no action has been taken so far. A fire erupts every five to six months. There is a mesh of hanging wires everywhere and no fire warning system has been installed. No infrastructure improvement has been done," a trader said.

"The government should compensate the shopkeepers for the losses they have incurred," he added.

Meanwhile, the fire officials said that weak structures, shortage of water and narrow lanes posed a major challenge for them to carry out firefighting operations.

In a tweet, Director of Delhi Fire Service Atul Garg said, "Fire in Chandni Chowk. Total 40 fire vehicles and 200-plus fire personnel were deployed. Major concern weak structures, shortage of water and narrow lane, building started collapsing." PTI VA RHL

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