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Rajkot Fire Tragedy: Gujarat HC pulls up state govt for 'inaction' against civic chief

The court was also apprised of the RMC's Town Planning Department knew about the illegal structure and a notice for demolition was given in June 2023.
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 15:39 IST
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 15:39 IST

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Ahmedabad: A special bench of Gujarat High Court Thursday once again reprimanded the state government for not taking strict action against senior officers such as municipal commissioners in preventing the fire tragedy in Rajkot which killed 27 people including several children at a popular gaming zone that was being run without requisite approvals right under the nose of the authorities. 

"What happened to the accountability of the municipal commissioners...what is the affidavit of the first commissioner at the time when the gaming zone started? What's his explanation...no periodic checks were carried out by the fire department....why is he not suspended?" the special headed by justice Biren Vaishnav sought to know from the Rajkot municipal Corporation's (RMC) lawyer.

Justice Vaishnav further said orally that "the responsibility lies at the top. Why are the commissioners not suspended? It has now come on record that you have been playing a ball game shifting from one stage to another...the fire department, TDO (taluka development officer),commissioner, then town planning... you keep playing these games." 

After it came to the notice of the court through the record that corporation officials knew about the illegal structure and a notice for its demolition had been issued in June 2023, Justice Vaishnav remarked, "Demolition order issued on June 8, after what happened,..rested in peace till 28 lives lost. For one year you did nothing. Why should you not pay for the murder of these children?" 

The RMC lawyer responded that the commissioner office was not aware of these developments and those were reportedly not marked to it.

Meanwhile, the state government also submitted its preliminary report of the special investigation team (STI) which has pointed out serious negligence on the part of RMC, police and Road and Building Department.

The report says that the concerned police inspectors granted a performance license to the gaming zone under Gujarat police act without verifying the checklists. The inspectors didn't verify the fire NOC. "The license has been granted without checking whether any adequate security measures are in place at the local level," the report has stated.

Similarly, it alleges RMC's town planning and fire department of negligence. The SIT has found that despite the Game Zone running illegally on construction for which no permission was given, the concerned officials didn't take any action.

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Published 06 June 2024, 15:39 IST

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