Hyderabad: Satisfied with the reports submitted by the Fire Safety Authority and other departments on safety measures at the Exhibition Ground, the High Court on Tuesday permitted the Exhibition Society to hold the Numaish from New Year's day.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy was hearing a PIL by lawyer Khaja Aijazuddin, on the lack of safety measures at the Numaish. It may be recalled that a devastating fire had swept through the Numaish last year. The court directed the member-secretary of the Telangana State Legal Service Authority to inspect the safety features at the venue before January 6 and submit a report on whether or not they complied with fire safety measures.
The court also directed the secretary to ascertain the number of stalls established in the Numaish, as there were contrary statements about the number of stalls. The Exhibition Society submitted that it had installed 1,500 stalls in the Numaish, with gaps in between to prevent fire from spreading should such an untoward incident occur. But the petitioner submitted to the court that the website of the Exhibition Society indicated 2,900 stalls.
On Monday, the bench had expressed its doubt about the no objection certificates (NOCs) issued by the departments concerned for the conduct of the exhibition and had directed the Hyderabad police commissioner to furnish physical verification reports of each department, to make clear on what basis they had issued the NOCs. This was done by 2.30 pm on Tuesday.
Special counsel appearing for the state government submitted that all the guidelines were being followed to conduct the Numaish, and said that the Exhibition Society has insured the exhibition for a sum of `5 crore, which would be used to pay compensation if any untoward incident occurs. The Chief Justice retorted sharply: “You may take `50 million crore of insurance, but the dead person is not going to revive.” The bench pointed out the lacunae in the physical verification reports and the third party audit report on fire safety measures.
Mr Khaja Aijazuddin, who had filed the PIL, submitted that the GHMC commissioner has not officially approved the plan for the stalls. He requested the court to give directions to stop the inauguration of the Numaish for 10 days.
However, the court said that with its taking the initiative,safety measures were much enhanced compared to last year, the court cannot stop the Numaish.
The Exhibition Society submitted that it has arranged two water sumps each of 1.5 lakh gallons to douse a fire should it occur and it had installed nine exit gates so that the grounds could be evacuated quickly.