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Sans fire safety, T Nagar buildings at risk

Comments Off on Sans fire safety, T Nagar buildings at risk   |   December 15, 2013    07:40am   |Contributed by manoja

CHENNAI: A report from the fire and rescue services last year revealed that none of the 145 highrise commercial buildings in T Nagar, especially those on Usman Road and Ranganathan Street, and another 21 buildings on Arcot Road in Kodambakkam has fire-proof mechanism in place. Yet nothing has been done to make these places safe.

While the National Building Code of India, 2005, makes it mandatory for buildings above 15 metres to have fire extinguishers, hose reels, sprinklers, wet risers, yard hydrants, automatic smoke detection system, underground and overhead water tanks with a capacity of 10 kilolitres and 100 kilolitres and emergency exits, fire and rescue service officials who surveyed the buildings on Usman Road said none of them had any of the facilities but for fire extinguishers. Many buildings on Ranganathan Street do not even have fire extinguishers, the report said.

Lack of stringent legal provisions has enabled traders and builders escape action. In reply to an RTI application by V Jayaraman, a resident of T Nagar, the divisional fire official admitted to lack of stringent provisions. A committee appointed by the Madras high court (which initiated the survey) to look into unauthorised buildings built before 1999 has been sitting on safety reports. An official said it has not met since January 2013.

Differences with the government over the introduction of the 2012 regularisation scheme for buildings constructed before July 1, 2007 had some non-official members of the committee quitting.

“The state has sabotaged the functioning of the committee which wanted to conduct surveys across the city,” said M G Devasahayam, former bureaucrat and a member of the committee. According to CMDA sources, the matter was sub judice and awaiting orders of the high court. “We have submitted the survey report of the fire and rescue services to the court,” was all an official had to say. Fire and Rescue services told TOI that they can only impose a fine of 500 against the offender under Fire Safety Act.


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