Are state's buildings fireproof?
High Court had instructed the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services to conduct fire safety inspections of high rises in city and provide NOCs accordingly. Interestingly, the HC and Vikas Soudha do not have clearances themselvesHigh Court had instructed the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services to conduct fire safety inspections of high rises in city and provide NOCs accordingly. Interestingly, the HC and Vikas Soudha do not have clearances themselves
Following two major fires in the city in a matter of 48 hours last week, the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services (KSFES) shocked the state by stating that several government buildings do not have 'No Objection Certificate' from their department.
Built and inaugurated seven years ago, Vikasa Soudha does not have clearances from the KSFES and flouts basic fire safety norms, including lack of fire extinguishers within the building
Built and inaugurated merely seven years ago, the Vikasa Soudha is one of them and lacks basic fire safety norms like fire extinguishers within the building.
Having already drawn flak for the offence, post the Carlton Towers inferno last year, the government building is yet to make provisions and abide by the fire safety norms.
"No clearances have been issued to the Vikasa Soudha yet, despite the fact that our department has sent them many reminders pointing out directions and violations.
As a government building, their first priority is to ensure that they abide by the law," said B K Hampa Gol, deputy director (technical), KSFES.
Meanwhile, the issue with the Vikasa Soudha is being called simple and can be easily resolved.
"We have inspected the building and there are a few minor clearance issues, which would be dealt with soon," said B G Changappa, director, KSFES.
A reality check however projected a contradictory picture as compared to what is being portrayed to be 'minor clearance' issues.
The building lacks fire extinguishers in core areas and the two level parking area gets flooded every time it rains.
Adding to this is the ill planned parking lot that allows no means of a quick and a safe exit in case of an emergency and the elevators are not as per fire safety norms.
When questioned, KSFES accepted that the norms had been flouted, but attributes the delay to the shortage of staff in their own department.
"It has been seven years since the building was inaugurated and it houses certain crucial wings of the government like the cabinet affairs, urban development, public works and energy.
We have been suggesting that the department complete certain works so we can inspect it and issue the clearances.
However, we are short staffed and are waiting for the government to approve our requisition for more recruitment," said N Shivkumar, IG, KSFES.
On the one hand
The High Court had issued a strict order to the KSFES to inspect all high rises in the city, but ironically, no fire safety precautions or even an NOC secured by the building authorities.
When questioned, the KSFES argues that all buildings built prior to the year 1984 do not have clearances as the department was not authorised to provide them NOCs.
Buildings like Vidhana Soudha still do not have clearances, although a fire safety wing has been deputed in the area.
"The HC was built long before our department became authorised to sanction NOCs and inspect buildings," said Changappa.
A fire blazed at a three-storey building in Koramangala recently due to negligence and the department blamed the owners of the building for not obtaining clearances.
How then is the HC any different from other building? "The HC is not a high rise. However, we agree that they should have obtained the clearances.
The HC has got a new fire station sanctioned and we are awaiting a government approval for the same," said A R Infant, DGP, KSFES.
Is when KSFES was authorised to inspect and issue NOCs