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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Civic body unmoved by infernos

Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 23, 2014
First Published: 12:46 IST(23/7/2014) | Last Updated: 12:54 IST(23/7/2014)

The municipal corporation (MC) of Chandigarh remains thick skin when it comes to firefighting. Even four major fire incidents in the past one month in Sector 17 have failed to make MC learn any lesson.

MC’s fire and emergency services committee former chairman MP Kohli said the fire officers were not taking their job seriously as for the past one year officers have not conducted any inspection of the buildings in any of the sectors, which was required as per national building code, 2005. Also, no notices have been issued for any deficiency in the fire-safety requirements, as per Delhi Fire Prevention Act as extended to Chandigarh, he added.

Ironically, eight-member committee was formed after a major fire collapsed a four-storey building in Sector 17-B on June 8, which had just issued a slew of recommendations, but did not fix responsibility of any officers. The committee had till date not taken any decision regarding removal of debris of the building.

Two firefighters were also killed in the incident.

In August 2013, seven members of the fire and emergency services committee, after visiting all seven fire stations, made some strong recommendations for its revamp. But till date, nothing has been done. The committee in its report stated that at least 362 posts in the fire department were lying vacant for the past one decade, but till date file is only lying with the UT home secretary and MC officials have failed to pursue the case.

Moreover, out of 15 firefighters, who were trained in Nagpur after spending Rs. 3 lakh each on them, only five are working as firefighters and rest are deployed as clerks.

One of members of the committee Surinder Bahga said it was very unfortunate that the fire committee meeting that was held last week was conducted after a gap of one year. They insisted the officers concerned for overhaul of the department, but it seemed that they (officers) were not interested in doing so.

When contacted, chief fire officer, Sunil Bhatia said as far as the violations regarding fire safety were concerned, the UT estate officer was responsible and the MC had nothing to do with it.

On the contrary, all noobjections certificates for fire safety are issued by the chief fire officer after the inspecting the building.

Also, when estate officer is responsible for the violations regarding fire safety then MC issued notices to Panjab University and Punjab Engineering College for fire violations.

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