Authorities wake up only after horrific fire accidents such as the one in Delhi, which are preventable if only laws are enforced. Bengaluru needs to wake up too to the possibility of such disasters as unlicensed buildings carrying on commercial activities and storing combustible materials without safety precautions abound here too, while the BBMP looks the other way.
There have been disasters here already where labourers have charred to death or suffocated due to absence or blocking of fire exits.
With possibly every law for good governance being flouted by BBMP, courts have seemingly taken over the governance of Bengaluru, rapping BBMP’s knuckles about building by-law violations, illegal commercialisation of residential areas, etc., which lead to fire safety rules being violated.
To avert possible fires in the crowded K.R. Market, the High Court has been issuing several directions to clear the entry points and pathways for firemen that have been illegally blocked under the very nose of officials.
It was after the horrific Carlton Towers tragedy in 2010 that the High Court again directed the government to issue a Fire Safety Notification for high-rise buildings and other public places, as a result of a PIL.
The Notification of 2011 prescribes stringent measures and requires BBMP not to grant a building licence without the owner obtaining an NOC from the Fire & Emergency Services and not to issue an Occupancy Certificate (OC) for a high-rise, until the District Fire Officer certifies that fire safety measures have been adhered to.
In cases of a violation of the notification, the BBMP is required to get electricity to the building disconnected, seal the building and suspend the OC until the deficiencies are rectified.
If illegal, unlicensed buildings, which violate all safety measures, are allowed to thrive under the benign eyes of BBMP, how will any of these measures be implemented? Poor labourers, who are housed in such buildings because the city has failed to provide them decent housing, will be the hapless victims.
The author is from CIVIC Bangalore...