Chandigarh MC sitting on tinderbox, own building not fire safe | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh MC sitting on tinderbox, own building not fire safe

All these buildings house offices directly dealing with the public, and witness a huge footfall every day.

punjab Updated: Jul 11, 2017 10:19 IST
Hillary Victor 
The audit was conducted after fire broke out at the administration building of Panjab University on May 14, destroying records of the accounts section. 
The audit was conducted after fire broke out at the administration building of Panjab University on May 14, destroying records of the accounts section. (HT File )

Forget about keeping residential and commercial buildings in the city safe from fire, the Chandigarh municipal corporation is itself sitting on a tinderbox.

An audit carried by the civic body found 19 glaring violations of fire safety norms in its building at Sector 17. A similar audit at the UT deputy commissioner (DC)’s office and buildings of the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) and UT food and supplies department — all in Sector 17 — found that there are no measures in place to combat a blaze.

All these buildings house offices directly dealing with the public, and witness a huge footfall every day. The audit was conducted after fire broke out at the administration building of Panjab University on May 14, destroying records of the accounts section. 

The audit found seven shortcomings at the RLA office and 11 at the DC office. 

MC chief fire officer Shilpi Pattar Dutta said: “We have written to the officers concerned and asked them to rectify all shortcomings as soon as possible. We have also formed three teams to conduct audit in all the buildings of Sector 17. They have started work on Monday.” 

On July 3, lack of preparedness of the firefighting department was laid bare when fire broke out at the Punjab treasury and accounts office, located on the fourth floor of Punjab Financial Corporation building, in the Bank Square in Sector 17. 

TheySay

“I will hold a meeting with the MC chief engineer and ask him to remove all shortcomings from the building. We have around 400 employees and the offices deal with public. We cannot take any chance,’ said mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal.  

“The MC swings into action soon after a major disaster, holds inquiries and announces compensation for the victims. But within a few months, the lapses emerge again and the situation even worsens at times,” said Baljinder Singh Bittu, chairman, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations of Chandigarh.

Glaring shortcomings

MC building, Sector 17 Registration and Licensing Authority, Sector 17 Deputy commissioner’s office, Sector 17
Fire extinguishers missing from all floors Fire brigade connections not installed Fire extinguishers not refilled 
Hose reel system not installed Manually operated electric alarm missingSeveral hose reels without nozzle 
No automatic sprinkler system Automatic alarm system not working Manually operated electric alarm not installed 
Fire lift with fireman switch missing Automatic sprinkler system not provided in basementFire pump not in working condition  
Yard hydrants not provided Hose reel system not installedIlluminated exit signs not provided  

Major fires at govt offices, banks 

July 2017: Fire at the Punjab treasury and accounts office, located on the fourth floor of Punjab Financial Corporation building at the Sector-17 Bank Square. Although it was brought under control before it could spread further, the incident brought to the fore poor fire safety arrangements in the area

May 2017: Records of the Panjab University accounts section destroyed after fire broke out in its administration building

September 2016: A short circuit on the first floor of the main branch of the Punjab National Bank in Sector 17 started a fire that gutted furniture worth ₹20 lakh and records

June 2014: Two firemen died after a four-storey building collapsed due to a major fire at the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology in Sector 17