Nagpur: A fiery tragedy on the lines of grotesque Kamala Mills fire in Mumbai could be in the waiting in Second Capital City of Nagpur, anytime. The Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) Fire and Emergency Services Department, which was recently taken to task by Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court for its shabby working and overlooking fire safety aspects of Empress Mall, has found most of the hotels and restaurants and malls in the city unsafe as far as outbreak of fire incident is concerned.
As a precautionary measure, the Fire Department has urged NMC’s Water Works Department and MSEDCL to disconnect water and power supplies to these buildings housing the unsafe establishments, according to Chief Fire Officer Rajendra Uchake. The Chief Fire Officer has warned that if the deadline given to correct the wrong is not met, the Department will initiate stern action of sealing these buildings.
According to reports, 13 hotels and restaurants in Ganjipeth Fire Station jurisdiction were found to be prone to fiery tragedy. Similarly, Sugat Nagar and Cotton Market Fire Stations have declared two eating joints each in their jurisdictions unsafe. Civil Lines and Kalamna Fire Stations have tagged one hotel each hazardous. However, in the Narendra Nagar, Lakadganj and Sakkardara Fire Stations, no joints were found unsafe.
Interestingly, the Akola Urban Cooperative Bank, Gandhibagh, was also found fire prone mainly due to lack of fire-fighting tools and other preventive measures.
According to the Fire and Emergency Services Department, the erring owners or occupants of the buildings were first issued notices to comply with the fire-fighting norms. Once a reply to the notice is received, and based on action taken, the department has proceeded to declare the buildings unsafe.
In addition, 29 property owners, including dean of Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, were slapped with notices for failure to comply with fire safety norms. Besides these cases, the Department is also carrying out inspections of more bars, restaurants and eating joints. The compiled data of 2015 revealed that there are 44 bars and restaurants and 97 eating joints under Narendra Nagar Fire Station. Similarly, under Civil Lines Fire Station there are 42 eating joints and 45 bars and restaurants. Around 14 bars and restaurants, three saoji, and one eating joint are under Kalamna Station. Cotton Market too has 35 bars and restaurants and 41 eating joints. In Sugat Nagar Fire Station jurisdiction, there are 13 bars and restaurants and eight eating joints. Similarly, Lakadganj station has 26 bars and restaurants, 14 eating joints and 7 Saoji eating joints.
Notably, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had recently came down heavily on the Fire and Emergency Services Department for overlooking fire safety aspects of Empress Mall. The High Court had also rapped the Fire Department for its totally unsatisfactory work in checking fire safety aspects of high rise and wondered whether the department was functional at all. A Division Bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi while hearing a PIL filed by Chandu Lade and Rohit Naidu had taken the Fire
Department to task and wondered as to how such a cryptic report can be issued and virtually issued ultimatum to Fire department to improve its functioning.
According to the petitioners who placed report on record, basement, ground floor and third floor of the Mall is equipped with all fire prevention and life safety measures, however the report is conveniently silent about first second and fourth floor. Even this fire certificate has expired long back, the petitioner claimed while accusing NMC with protecting the Empress Mall developer. The PIL has claimed that the mall is presently running without a fire fitness certificate and the Nagpur Municipal corporation has already issued a notice dated September 21, 2016 u/s. 8(1) of the Maharashtra Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, thereby declaring the said shopping mall as unsafe for public and has even directed its occupants to vacate the same.