New Delhi: The 17 deaths in the fire at a hotel here in February last year were due to the lack of awareness about the safety arrangements among the occupants and not due to inadequacy of those systems, the fire department told the Delhi High Court on Monday.
The fire department, in an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, has said that during the fire-fighting operations on February 12, 2019, when the tragedy occurred, it was found that "the incident took place not due to inadequacy of fire protection arrangements, instead it was due to the lack of awareness among occupants and hotel staff".
The department has said that the Hotel Arpit Palace, where the incident took place, has two exit staircases available and a fire safety system was also provided in the building premises.
The affidavit was filed in a PIL initiated by the court on its own after receiving a letter from Tushar Sahdev and Raman Kalra, who had claimed that the hotel, located in Karol Bagh area of the national capital, was not complying with the Supreme Court directions to have more than one exit and entry point.
They have contended in their letter that there was only one entry/exit point.
Apart from that, they have also said the hotel was located on a narrow road as against the requirement in the Master Plan that such establishments be set up near roads with a minimum width of 80 feet.
The letter has also questioned how a license to operate was granted to the hotel by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Police despite these limitations.
The fire department, in its affidavit, has stated that it conducts inspections of buildings referred to it by the local authorities and that unauthorised constructions and encroachments do not come under its purview.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 14.