Delhi is a sitting duck against fire hazards with schools, markets, cinema halls, high-rise buildings and even hospitals running without the mandatory fire-safety apparatus in place, a government audit has found.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Thursday made public its audit report for the financial year 2008-09 on various Delhi government departments — including the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) — and painted a very grim picture.
For instance, Pragati Maidan —which sees a congregation of over one lakh people every day during the trade fair — did not have “even the basic requirements of fire safety measures” from 1992 till 2008.
“Non-working fire hydrants, blocked exits and extensive use of combustible material” made the trade fair a disaster just waiting to happen, the report said.
Moreover, 816 schools have been running without ‘no objection certificates’ from the fire department and their buildings don’t have any fire safety equipment and measures.
“Thus, the lives of the children and teachers were at risk,” the CAG report said.
As Kolkata continues to count bodies following the inferno in the Stephen Court building last week, Delhi’s buildings are no safer.
Around 812 — or 34 per cent — of high-rise buildings in the Capital don’t have fire safety and preventive measures.
The fire service is in no position to help. The CAG found that it has a 67 per cent shortage of fire-fighting equipment and 48 per cent shortage of firefighters. And, in about 77 per cent of the cases, the DFS reached the spot later than the prescribed time limit.
Speaking to HT, DFS chief R.C. Sharma said the department was in the process of recruiting more people. “There is no point in purchasing more equipment if I do not have enough people to operate them. We are in the process of filling up the vacant posts.”