The Jharkhand High Court on February 1, 2023, took suo motu cognisance of the Dhanbad high-rise fire incident in which 14 people, including women and children, were charred to death and 18 others were injured. While citing news reports, the High Court was hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the incident.
Today, it ordered a time-bound fire safety audit across the state and asked the State to file detailed report in this matter.The incident took place on January 31, 2023, after a major fire broke out on the second floor of Ashirwad Tower in the Joraphatak area of Dhanbad, about 160 km from the state capital Ranchi.
Observing that it can’t remain a silent spectator to the loss of human lives in fire incidents, a division bench presided over by Acting Chief Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh and Justice Deepak Roshan issued notices to the Director General of Fire Safety and Urban Development Department Secretary to file their response to a PIL over fire safety. The bench also issued notices to the civic bodies in all districts and the respective deputy commissioners to guarantee that fire safety standards are stringently complied with. It further directed the officials to ensure that all fire safety protocols are carried out per the prescribed mandatory rules.
Advocate General Rajiv Ranjan informed the court that two committees have been constituted to examine the recent incidents in Dhanbad and other districts and to submit a report in the matter. “The Deputy Commissioner Dhanbad has constituted two committees. One is to find out the cause of the fire and also investigate whether all safety guidelines related to fire safety were fulfilled or not. The second committee will find out the structural damage to the building. We will submit these reports to the court”, he said. He also mentioned that the state government will apprise the court via affidavits regarding fire safety standards in the state, compliance with maps provided in building bylaws, and compliance with fire safety guidelines by urban municipal bodies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of the departed. The Prime Minister also declared that an amount of Rs 50,000 each has also been sanctioned for the injured in the incident.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has also announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakhs for the family members of those who lost their lives in the mishap. The Jharkhand Chief Minister said that instructions have been given to the district administration to provide proper treatment and other facilities to the people injured in the accident.
The High Court has scheduled the upcoming hearing for February 17, 2023.