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Head remains buried in the sand

It looks like government offices have not learnt lessons from the massive blaze at Kadamba Bus Stand that occurred less than a year ago in October 2017. It was an incident that resulted in RTO documents and computers being burnt. Every time such an incident occurs, a debate is triggered on how many government institutions, offices and buildings continue to flout the mandatory fire safety measures.

A senior officer of the Directorate of Fire & Emergency Services (DFES) lamented the fact that despite repeated recommendations and annual inspections, the authorities refuse to comply with the directions. Taking for example the KTC bus stand itself, even after the horrific fire, the authorities have not acted upon the recommendations by the DFES to ensure the incident does not reoccur.

While many buildings and offices have not bothered to install the fire preventive equipments; several others though have these equipments in place do not ensure if at all it is functional.

“The compliance of recommendations to have the fire safety system in place and/or to renew the NOC annually is poor. Our letters to concerned authorities of these buildings/departments get no response,” the officer said. Lack of penal powers to act against the violators is proving to be a setback for the DFES.

“Only those commercial establishments that need to get their licenses renewed from the City Corporation, Tourism Department, etc get their fire safety NOCs renewed because unless the fire audit is done, these premises do not get their business licenses. Similarly, in the case of high rise buildings, the fire audit is mandatory for occupancy certificate. However, once they get the occupancy certificate, the concerned individual/company does not apply for renewal of the NOC. On the other hand, non-commercial buildings do not even write to us to conduct fire safety,” he added.

Herald has a list of government premises that blatantly flout the fire safety rules and it leads with the Goa Legislative Assembly. In wake of the massive fire in Maharashtra Secretariat way back in the year 2012, Goa government had issued an advisory to the DFES to check fire protection systems at all government departments including Secretariat and State Assembly complex.
Ironically, even after six years; the fire fighting system is not functional. A reliable officer told Herald that though Goa Legislative Assembly and Secretariat have the systems fitted, these are not functional. Similarly other complexes are sitting on a time bomb that include Goa Medical College, Kala Academy, Central Library, Panjim market, and many others have non-functional fire preventive equipments. It is also learnt that Goa University that got the NOC renewed for the Science Block, has reportedly not applied for the renewal of the entire campus.

On the brighter side, the Cabo Raj Niwas, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium, and the Athletic track are counted in the list of good abiders of the fire safety norms. So also, the Old GMC and Inox also have the system functional. [H]

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