PMC stalls fire system work simply because pipes look 'ugly'

It seems that safety has taken a backseat in the Pune Municipal Corporation headquarters at Shivajinagar. The fire-fighting system that was being put in place since last October hit a roadblock almost at the end, when the administration decided that the red-coloured low-level pipes already installed looked ‘ugly’.

Sudden halt: A worker welding ducting around the fire system in the Pune Municipal Corporation headquarters

The fire-fighting system was initiated on war footing followed by the blaze at Mantralaya in Mumbai last year. Another reason to stall the Rs 2.17 crore project is that the administration has taken objection to the installation of water sprinklers in all lobbies and corridors in the building. However, the contractor claims that the job was done as per the work order.

“Aesthetically, the work needs to be corrected as the red pipes used for water sprinklers are placed lower down and look odd. We have already approved funds for this work and money is not an issue. We are just a little behind schedule,” said Sandeep Khandve, executive engineer, Building and Construction Department, PMC, who is in charge of the project. The work was to end by January 2013 and is being carried out by H D Firecon Techno Pvt Ltd.

Of no use: A sprinkler line that has been left incomplete at the PMC headquarters

On the other hand, V S Deshmukh, director of the firm, is annoyed with the way things are turning out. “We are following the work order, instructions from the consultant and getting technical advice from PMC’s engineers. It is wrong to ask us to remove the pipes by arguing that it looks shabby. Human life is more precious than any aesthetics in the world. This is a 57-year-old building and we are installing a new fire-fighting system as per the directives given by the PMC administration. So far, we have installed 70 fire hydrants and over 400 red pipes that are 1,000 metres long and six inches wide. Around 1,500 water sprinklers are to be attached to these pipes.”

According to Deshmukh, the payment of the work done till date hasn’t been released. “We are being told that there is a shortage of funds. We have given the work order but still have not received a work agreement. Many departments did not even allow us to work in their area and passed comments on the ongoing work. We are a professional agency such ill treatment from a government organisation like PMC is uncalled for.”

PMC’s ex-chief fire officer L N Raut, said, “PMC has not yet learnt a lesson despite the recent fire at the estate department in Aurangabad Municipal Corporation on February 5 that destroyed records of 1,124 employees. There is nothing wrong in using red-colour pipes that are universally approved to identify the system.

The main building should have its own fire system in place. According to the national building code, if a building is over 15 metres tall, it should have its own fire system and the PMC headquarters is 18 metres tall.”

Work planned
PMC is looking to install fire systems at three properties
>> Savarkar Bhawan near Congress Bhawan
>> Balgandharv Rangmandir at J M Road
>> Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha, Kothrud 

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