New Delhi: An intense political blame game erupted after the Anaj Mandi fire tragedy that killed 43 people Sunday, with the BJP holding the Kejriwal government responsible for the incident and the AAP alleging that the saffron party was doing politics over dead bodies.
The Congress has accused both the BJP, which is power in all three municipal corporations here, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the worst fire tragedy in the city after the 1997 Uphaar Cinema incident that claimed 59 lives and left over 100 people injured.
Officials suspect that the fire, which was reported at 5:22 am from the congested north Delhi area, was triggered by a short-circuit due to “internal system” trouble.
Overhead wires were dangling in the area and despite repeated complaints in this regard, government agencies did not take any action, claimed Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari.
Tiwari along with Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited Anaj Mandi and the hospitals where the injured are admitted.
The Congress blamed the AAP government and the BJP-led municipal corporations for the incident.
“The (Arvind) Kejriwal government is responsible for this. The MCDs come under the BJP. They are also equally responsible for it,” Delhi Congress Committee president Shubhash Chopra said.
Tiwari, on behalf of the BJP, announced Rs 5 lakh to the families of each of the deceased and Rs 25,000 for treatment of the injured. The BJP has also cancelled its programmes for the day in view of the tragedy.
The 43 people were killed after a massive blaze ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in Anaj Mandi. “This settlement should not be here, they have been given alternative places but the Delhi government has not shifted them,” Union Minister Puri alleged.
Senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh said it was “shameful” that BJP was indulging in politics over dead bodies. “It is the BJP which is responsible for issuing licences for running manufacturing units in residential areas. Instead of accepting its responsibility, the BJP has started doing politics over the dead bodies of the victims,” Singh charged.
Senior BJP functionary and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi assembly Vijender Gupta demanded that the Kejriwal government call an emergency session of the House to discuss ways to prevent such incidents.
“Such incidents have become a regular feature, which is very painful. The Kejriwal government should call a special session of the assembly to stop recurrence of such incidents,” Gupta said.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Vijay Goel said it was the Delhi government’s responsibility to take action against illegal factories running in residential areas and prevent incidents of fire.
“It has become a common thing now. Such incidents happen, inquiry is conducted but the government does not do anything. Factories running in residential areas are to be provided plots at alternative places but the government did not do it,” he said.
BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Kejriwal on “moral grounds” and alleged that the factory was being run “illegally” for which he should “sack” Industry Minister Satyendar Jain.
Bihar’s Water Resources Minister Sanjay Jha blamed Delhi’s power department for the tragedy. “I went to the spot, saw a mesh of overhanging wires. It was bound to happen. The power department is responsible for it. The Bihar CM is monitoring the situation and I believe the death toll will cross 43,” he said.
The Bihar government is trying to identify those injured in the incident and will give Rs 1 lakh ex gratia to the families of the deceased, he added.
The injured included a minor. However, it was not confirmed whether the injured worked in the units but most of the labourers were migrants.
The Delhi government has ordered a probe into the incident and sought a detailed report within seven days. Kejriwal has announced Rs 1 lakh for the injured and said his government will bear the cost of their treatment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured. The amount will be paid from the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, the PMO said in a tweet.
Modi and Kejriwal have announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives.