The country’s first air-conditioned underground market, Palika Bazar, has been functioning without the requisite fire safety certificate from the Delhi fire services (DFS).
A recent inspection conducted at the underground market, located at the heart of the Capital, by the fire department found some shortcomings in the installed fire safety gadgets. This is why it has not been given the required no objection certificate (NOC) by the DFS.
The swanky looking Palika Bazar — which falls under the jurisdiction of New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and witnesses over 10,000 footfall everyday — was re-opened for the public in August this year after a R30-crore renovation.
Taking cognisance of Friday’s fire at Kolkata’s AMRI hospital that claimed over 90 lives,
DFS has initiated a drive to make the city’s markets and hospitals equipped to fight fire tragedies.
While NDMC claimed that they had applied to DFS for fire clearance, senior fire officers said the NOC would be given only after all the cited discrepancies were rectified.
“We have approached the fire department for a fire clearance certificate and are hopeful of getting it soon,” said Anand Prakash, NDMC spokesperson.
A senior fire officer said that during the inspection — conducted around 10 days back — the smoke ventilation system was found non-functional.
“The fire alarm system at the market was found non-functional and was not connected with the smoke management system. Although a sprinkler system has been installed in the market, it needs to be extended to all the 400 shops. The fire detection system too was found non-functional. Besides, the public address system was also not working properly,” said the fire officer on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“We have conveyed the discrepancies to the NDMC and they will rectify them soon,” said AK Sharma, director, DFS.
Dinesh Gaur, president of Palika Bazar shopkeeper’s welfare association also believes that some more fire safety arrangements should be made by the NDMC to make Palika Bazar safe from fire tragedies.
...and south Delhi markets no better
Karn Pratap Singh
Even though the newly-drafted fire safety act of the Delhi fire services (DFS) states that all commercial buildings with a height of more than 9 meters must have fire safety certificates, almost all such buildings in south Delhi markets do not have a fire NOC.
Sources in the fire department said that while no efforts were being made by shop owners in this regard, even DFS officers were not bothered to enforce the act.
Fire officers claimed that several markets in south Delhi were ill-equipped to deal with fires. This includes Lajpat Nagar market, Sarojini Nagar market, Khan Market, Hauz Khas village market and others.
“We will conduct surveys of all markets and make sure that they have the requisite fire safety arrangements,” said a senior fire officer.
Investigation into a fire accident, which occurred at a restaurant in Hauz Khas Village market in November, has revealed that the building, which was more than 15 meters in height, did not have any fire safety equipment, except a dry riser.
Also, there was only one entry-exit gate for visitors and workers.
Illegal parking of vehicles in the market is also a problem, as it makes it difficult for firemen to take fire tenders to the affected spot.