BENGALURU: Officials from the fire and emergency services have said the organisers of Aero India 2019 had failed to take necessary precautions for fire safety and event organiser HAL had not taken a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the department for the event.
Three hundred cars were gutted in a blaze at the show’s parking lot on Saturday.
Sunil Agarwal, additional director general of police (fire and emergency services), on Monday said fire brigade officials had found that firesafety measures were lacking at the venue and brought it to HAL’s notice in writing on February 19, a day prior to the launch of the show. But HAL allegedly declined to receive the notice, saying it had not taken any NOC for earlier aero shows.
Fire officials said their notice had identified specific places like parking lots and temporary stalls where safety measures were lacking. “We showed our notice to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman when she visited the parking lot,” a senior officer said.
The fire and emergency services had deployed 37 fire tenders at the spot, but event organisers did not allow them to enter the Yelahanka Air Base and forced them to park the vehicles outside the compound.
“As far as the role of HAL is concerned, we clarify that the land belongs to IAF and fire services was the responsibility of the state fire department. HAL provided assistance and requisite support in this activity, as it has done in other areas related to Aero India 2019. HAL cannot comment on notices issued, etc,” said Gopal Sutar, spokesperson, HAL.
119 owners identify charred vehicles
With most vehicles completely burnt, identification has become difficult, while several other owners have not even reached out to the authorities yet.
“Some of them are calling, but haven’t yet come to identify their vehicles,” said a transport department official. He added that the report on 100 vehicles — with their chassis and engine numbers, make and category et al — will be ready by noon on Tuesday, while they will need at least 10-15 days to complete the report on the remaining vehicles.
The defence ministry and Indian Air Force, who are probing the incident, say 278 cars were fully damaged and 73 partially — 16 due to fire and 57 due to breaking of glass. However, the transport department maintained 277 vehicles have been damaged of which 251 were totally burnt.
“We can’t find chassis or engine numbers in most of the vehicle, making identification a difficult task. Once we are able to establish these, or if the owners are able to identify the cars, we can prepare our report,” said an official at the Yelahanka RTO.