Again, Gujarat govt & civic officials come under HC fire over Rajkot fire

The High Court characterized the fire as exceptionally catastrophic in comparison to other recent incidents.
Again, Gujarat govt & civic officials come under HC fire over Rajkot fire

AHMEDABAD: For a second time in a month, the Gujarat High Court came down heavily on the state government on Thursday over the Rajkot TRP Game Zone fire incident that killed 27 people, including children, on May 25.

Presided over by Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal, a two-judge bench in a suo motu hearing remarked, “Why does the government cover a contractor in such incidents? Municipal commissioners are sleeping.”

The High Court characterized the fire as exceptionally catastrophic in comparison to other recent incidents. The bench warned that officers would be held accountable, emphasing that negligence would not be tolerated.

The High Court remarked, “Why does the government shield the contractor in these cases? Municipal commissioners are neglecting their duties, which lead to these accidents. From now onwards, no municipal commissioner will be given another chance,” observed the court. “The incident may seem minor to you, but now you will not be able to protect the officers,” the judges stated.

The court highlighted similar tragedies in Morbi and Harni, questioning why the government consistently protected its contractors. The court condemned the municipal commissioner, attributing the frequent accidents to the negligence and inaction of municipal officials.

The High Court has asked the government to submit a final fact-finding report by June 16. The court instructed the government to reveal the fire safety measures implemented statewide in the educational sector, including comprehensive fire safety assessment in district and urban divisions.

The fire at TRP Game Zone, a gaming arcade in Rajkot, killed 27 people. Investigations have revealed that the arcade was operating without a fire licence.

In a previous hearing, the court assailed the civic body and the state government after it became known that the gaming arcade that caught fire was not the only one to be running without a fire licence. In Rajkot two other gaming zones were operating for over two years without permits, including fire safety certificates.

The court was hearing a petition that claimed that the fire safety Act, as directed by the SC, is not followed in the state. The petition also claimed that there was laxity in the investigation. After the Rajkot fire incident, the state came up with draft rules to ensure safety at recreation facilities.

Fix accountability, no compromise with human lives: CM Patel

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel confronted government officials during a public event on the Rajkot fire incident and emphasised accountability. “We have to think about where we made a mistake. When it comes to human life, there should be no compromise.” Patel presented a cheque for Rs 2,111 crore for the development of various civic bodies. He questioned why some corporations failed to utilize allocated funds. He said a delay in approvals resulted in financial loss.

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