Millennium Post

Anaj Mandi: A ticking time-bomb

Anaj Mandi: A ticking time-bomb

New Delhi: The fire that claimed 43 lives, putting 16 others in the hospital was waiting to happen as the entire Anaj Mandi area had become a ticking time bomb, with more than 50-60 factories operating out of small buildings in the area - many without fire clearance from the Delhi Fire Service.

Residents who have lived in the area for years said that the area was largely residential before such factories started popping up around 10-15 years ago.

As one walks through the main entrance gate of Anaj Mandi, furniture shops, meat shops and several other household items shops line the narrow lanes in the heart of North Delhi.

The lanes continue forever before disappearing into a web of intersecting power lines, which block out almost all natural light to the area.

Multiple lanes inside the neighbourhood are lined with stacks of car and bike tyres - known to be highly combustible.

While the area has remained largely residential, according to people who have lived there for generations, the factories started coming up in the last 10-15 years, leading to the increasing commercialisation of the area.

One resident, Mohammad Arif, said that they had to start getting used to the toxic fumes and pollutants that flooded the area along with the factories.

"We also had to get used to the whirring of factory machinery all through the night and eventually learned to sleep with it. But as the factories increased in numbers and proximity, we had to start dealing with our homes trembling with the force of running machinery," Arif, who has lived in the area since 1985 said. Looking at the block of residences and factories from the outside, one would assume that the residents of the area live a closely-knit, peaceful and social life. But with it, residents said that location was getting more toxic by the day.

In addition to the discovery that the factory that caught fire on Sunday morning did not have fire clearance from the DFS, a previous resident of the area said that something like this has never happene before.

"I used to work as a carpenter in the area for 10-15 years and also live here. We always thought that something dangerous could happen but such a tragic incident had never crossed our minds," said a former resident of Anaj Mandi, speaking to Millennium Post.

While the North MCD, under whose jurisdiction the area falls should have kept regular checks on unauthorised construction in the area, there were no checks on this according to multiple families living in the area.

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