The building was missing a number of permissions and was operating multiple small factories and packaging units inside, when a fire broke out in February this year. The committee consisted of expert members from North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Central Pollution Control Board, who found that the factory was running in a residential area, had no fire safety equipment or fire extinguishers and an emergency staircase was found to be permanently closed.
The committee in its report, a copy of which is with TOI, also recommends setting up a special task force (STF) to identify all industries operating in residential areas and without permission, asking for discoms to not provide electricity connection to a factory or industry that operates in a non-conforming area.
Following orders from the NGT in March, the panel calculated the environmental compensation amount factoring in the total number of days the building had been violating norms, the pollution index of the type of industry operating inside the premises and the population factor in the vicinity. The committee held an inspection in the area on April 9, 2021, with the members concluding that the blaze started from a room where nail polish or lipsticks were being stored or manufactured.
“The said premises is located in a residential area, which is not as per the Master Plan of Delhi. The premises consisted of ground floor, first floor and a terrace covered with a tin shed. The ground floor was being used as a godown, while the first floor consisted of 14 rooms, of which three rooms were being used for manufacturing lipstick and nail polish,” the report, submitted to the NGT on August 24, stated.
It further claimed that the panel found that the owner had rented out the property to a tenant, who had further sub-let the property to three other people. “In the said premises, all activities were operating without obtaining any statutory permission from any of the department,” the report added, stating an amount of Rs 96.18 lakhs should be imposed as environmental compensation, which has been calculated from the period of the initial rent agreement (October 1, 2019) till the date of the fire (February 27, 2021).