A leading south Delhi mall has claimed before the Delhi High Court that kiosks in the open area of balcony were neither unauthorised construction, nor a misuse, and no risk was caused to the public health or safety.
The submission of Select Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, owner of Select City Walk at Saket here, comes in the backdrop of the high court's observation that the alleged illegal commercial activities in the open areas of some malls, blocking the entry or exit points, could lead to a situation like the 1997 Uphaar tragedy which had claimed 59 lives.
The matter is listed for hearing on October 11 before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar.
The affidavit filed by the company has claimed that the allegations made in the petition that commercial activities inside the open areas of two popular south Delhi malls -- Select City Walk and DLF Malls -- could pose a risk to safety if there was a fire or an earthquake, are "false and vague".
"The entire premise of the petition is based on incorrect and false allegations that the activity of installation of temporary stalls, carts, kiosks, etc is in the common areas, which block access to fire fighting equipment as well as access points, thereby allegedly creating an unwarranted interference of higher risks to public health and safety during emergencies," the affidavit filed through advocate Ankit Jain said.
The court had earlier expressed concern over the lack of respect for public safety and security and pulled up the authorities, including Delhi Police and Fire Services, for not thinking of "public safety and security".
The petitioner advocate Jeetender Gupta has alleged that the two malls have "not adhered to the fire safety rules and national building codes" which mandate that there would be no encroachment of common areas, exits, terraces and other open areas which should be kept unobstructed for movement of public during any emergencies like fire or earthquake.
He has alleged that these malls were running commercial activities at all these open areas, posing a "risk to safety and security of the general public".
Gupta, in his plea, has sought directions to the authorities to remove or demolish the encroachments, obstructions or alterations in the open or common areas, entries and exits.
However, the company has claimed that it has taken various steps which are beyond the requirement of the "fire protection and life safety provisions of the National Building Code, 2016, for ensuring the safety and security of its visitors and occupants of the building".
The affidavit further said that all licences, including no objection certificate from Delhi Fire Services, consent to operate from Delhi Pollution Control Committee have been obtained and renewed in respect of the complex.
The high court had earlier issued notice to the Delhi government, the DDA, police, fire department, the two malls, seeking their responses and status report.
In response to the notice, the company claimed in the recently filed affidavit that the petition was "devoid of merits" and does not contain any particular material instance which creates doubts about the safety and security of the public in the shopping complex.
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