Delhi LG gives Probe a nod; Biological samples collected from relatives of victims – The New Indian Express

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has approved a masterful investigation into the Mundka building fire, which claimed the lives of 27 people, and it will be completed within six weeks, officials said on Sunday.

The District Magistrate (West) will investigate the failings of relevant departments and agencies, recommend action against offending officials and determine accountability, they said.

The DM will also propose remedial measures to prevent such tragedies in the future, officials said.

The blaze, one of the deadliest in recent years, engulfed a four-storey building in the Mundka neighborhood outside Delhi on May 13.

It started on the first floor of the building due to a suspected explosion in an air conditioner, according to firefighters.

Nineteen people are still missing.

The masterful investigation into the incident was announced by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during his visit to the scene on Saturday.

According to officials, the probe dossier has been approved by LG.

The mandate of the investigation consists in particular in determining the circumstances and the cause of the fire.

“The investigation will also verify the failures of the relevant ministries and agencies and their officers in relation to their expected roles.

It will fix accountability of relevant officials for misconduct and recommend action against officials, individuals and agencies that are wrong,” the officials said.

The investigation will also propose remedial measures to prevent such tragedies in the future, they said.

As part of the investigation, the DM will also check whether there have been any violations of the laws, they added.

The Delhi government has announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the relatives of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the fire.

Earlier on Sunday, Delhi police arrested the owner of the building following several raids in the nation’s capital and Haryana.

Meanwhile, Delhi police said on Sunday they had collected biological samples from at least 20 people, whose family members are believed to have been killed in the blaze, for DNA profiling.

Those members also include relatives of the eight whose identities have already been verified, officials said.

At least 27 people were charred to death in the massive blaze that tore through the four-story building on Friday, police said.

“Although eight charred bodies have been identified, we have also collected DNA samples from their family members to fully confirm their identities.

So far, we have collected samples from more than 20 people for the DNA profiling process, which will be carried out by forensic experts,” said Sameer Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer).

“DNA sampling is a lengthy process. We will ensure that it is completed within five to ten days. Once DNA profiling is done, all bodies and charred remains found can be identified and released to members of the family involved,” he added. he added.

An expert from the Rohini Forensic Laboratory (FSL) said here that bones, hair with roots, teeth, blood and samples from other body parts were collected.

“On Saturday, our teams collected samples including those from the charred human remains, which were mostly bones and hair. The charred bodies that were identified were post-mortem while those not yet identified will also be identified through the DNA profiling,” the expert said. .

The official said the DNA profiling technique had already been used to verify the identities of victims during the northeast Delhi riots, the Anaj Mandi fire and a major fire at a shoe factory in Udyog Nagar, West Delhi.

Explaining the technique, he said DNA is extracted by breaking the cell membrane and the membrane of the nucleus.

It is then washed with alcohol and stored.

This is followed by DNA quantification to check its quality and quantity.

Later, it is subjected to a test called PCR amplification to make sure it is human DNA.

“DNA found in forensic samples is in very low quantity. Thus, it is amplified before DNA sequencing. Billions of copies are produced in this process. During DNA sequencing, the “Amplified DNA is sequenced in a DNA sequencer. These sequences are produced as a graph showing peaks. The DNA sequence is then compared to the queried DNA sample,” he added. .

The NHRC sent a notice to the Delhi government on Sunday, while observing that the incident established that city authorities have “learned little” from past experiences.

Police have so far recovered 27 bodies following Friday’s incident.

Among them, 14 were identified as women and six as men.

“The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has learned suo motu of media reports that as many as 27 people died in a major fire at a four-storey office in Mundka, Delhi on May 13.

“It would appear that this fire has once again established that city authorities have learned little from similar incidents in the past which exposed the complete absence of fire safety mechanisms and the gaping holes in their implementation.” , he said in a statement.

The panel addressed the notice to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Delhi, requesting a report within two weeks which would include action taken against those responsible, fixing culpability and the status of disbursement of aid or rehabilitation granted. by the government, if necessary.

In issuing the notice, the NHRC observed that, according to the media, “this appears to be the worst case of gross violation of the human rights of the victims due to utter apathy and utter dereliction of statutory duty officials in the national capital of Delhi, resulting in the loss of precious lives due to a fire”.

“Reviewing the seriousness of the matter and observing that the authorities seem the least bothered by its previous recommendations in similar incidents, the commission has also instructed its chief executive to immediately dispatch a team to conduct an on-site investigation into the matter,” the NHRC said in a statement.

He said that according to the media, the building did not have an approved plan and the factory was operating without any license.

“The fact is said to have come to light during an investigation by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Hundreds of buildings are operational in congested neighborhoods as authorities strive to contain them. There are several areas in Delhi where even firefighters cannot cannot enter due to rampant unauthorized construction,” the statement read.

A fire had occurred in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi neighborhood in 2019, in which 43 people had lost their lives, and the NHRC, learning about the incident, ordered the authorities to draw up a plan of action to tackle the problem of illegal industrial activities in Delhi.

“According to our information, a special task force (STF) has been formed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and an inter-ministerial committee has been formed by the civic body.

The panel had submitted its action plan in 2020 and the STF gave its recommendations in 2021, but both have yet to be implemented,” he said.

According to reports, the investigation report to establish the guilt of those responsible for the Anaj Mandi fire has “never been made public”.

“It is also mentioned in the report that the Department of Urban Development, Government of Delhi had issued an order to the Delhi Fire Department and civic bodies, relaxing some of the standards, which were made strict after previous fires in Delhi. . “, indicates the press release of the CNDH.

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