A major fire in Chandni Chowk, Bhagirath Palace, in the heart of the capital city of Delhi on December 13 was any time expected. Such or even more disastrous situation in Asia's biggest wholesale market for electrical, electronics, pharmaceuticals and surgical market can and should not be ruled out because of the callous attitude of civic authorities and police towards large-scale unauthorized dwellings and commercialization of this locality. Chandni Chowk was once a purely residential colony for the walled city of Delhi-6.
THE UNAUTHORIZED unplanned constructions leading to shops and godowns till sixth or seventh floor and built inside the buildings - leaving very narrow walkways and with hanging electric wires in all such buildings - has made Bhagirath Palace prone to fire-accidents.
Complete footpaths and wide roads of the locality have been fully encroached by shops and goods dumped by shopkeepers. While in yesteryears, there was smooth traffic and parking allowed, now shopkeepers have chained entry of this market to prevent vehicular traffic for their own commercial interests. All such encroachments prevent fire-tenders to reach the site of fire - resulting in loss of goods and property.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation and area police authorities should fix responsibility for allowing such unchecked unauthorised constructions and encroachments on footpaths and roads of not only Bhagirath Palace but all the streets and roads in and around Chandni Chowk. All unauthorised constructions should be demolished by a crash programme with all encroachments on roads and footpaths immediately removed.