Uphaar cinema fire in Delhi exposed poor fire safety standards in India
Uphaar cinema fire tragedy | Photo credit: ANI
- The doors to the cinema hall were locked from the outside.
- The movie theater did not have a functioning public announcement system.
- The final verdict in this case was handed down by the Supreme Court in August 2015.
New Delhi: Twenty-four years ago on this day (June 13), the Uphaar Cinema in Delhi’s upscale Green Park district went down in history as the site of one of India’s worst fire tragedies . Hell has killed 59 people and seriously injured more than 100, exposing poor fire safety standards in public places in India.
The horrific fire accident happened on June 13, 1997 during the screening of the Bollywood film “Border”. Following a short circuit, two transformers installed on the ground floor of the cinema room caught fire. Oil from one of the transformers spilled and spilled, dumping the fire into the parking lot and burning 27 vehicles parked there.
Smoke from the parking lot erupted into the packed movie theater. Unsuspecting people, for a second, believed the smoke was part of a special effect while the film was showing. But soon they realized there was a fire in the movie theater and ran for their lives. People rushed to the exit doors in extreme darkness as there was no emergency lighting. Surprisingly, the doors were locked from the outside. A mad stampede and toxic smoke left 59 dead and more than 100 seriously injured.
Initially, Delhi Police investigated the case. Later he was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A city court sentenced Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, owners of the Uphaar cinema, to two years in prison after convicting the duo of “death by negligence”. The case was later taken to the Supreme Court and the final verdict was announced in August 2015. The Supreme Court fined Sushil and Gopal 30 crore each and reduced their sentences to d imprisonment already served by them.
More than two decades after the murderous hell of Uphaar cinema, it seems the authorities have yet to learn their lesson. The country has witnessed several serious fires over the past 24 years. On December 8, 2019, a massive fire at a factory in Delhi’s Rani Jhansi Road area killed at least 43 people, making it the second worst fire in the nation’s capital since the Uphaar tragedy in 1997.
In January this year, a fire at a hospital in Bhandara, Maharashtra killed 10 infants. In this context, a fire safety audit was carried out by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai. The audit found that fire safety standards were not being met at more than 700 medical facilities in Mumbai.
The authorities are making the same mistakes that have claimed hundreds of lives in the past. Fire-related tragedies can be avoided by applying basic fire prevention standards and preparing for emergencies. The authorities must wake up and ensure that the protective measures against the outbreak of a fire and / or the limitation of its effects are strictly observed.