Violations galore in fire-prone Ludhiana, MC fails to rise from deep slumber

  • Harshraj Singh, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: May 16, 2016 14:22 IST
File photo of fire in Dal Bazaar. (JS Grewal/HT Photo)

Even as five hosiery units have been destroyed in fire incidents in the past one month owing to lack of safety equipment, the municipal corporation (MC) continues to remain in deep slumber over the violations of building bylaws and safety norms at such units.

Besides, these units function from narrow streets that fire brigade team also struggles to reach the spot to douse fire. But the MC has not taken any concrete measures to prevent these incidents.

In May, 2015, a fire broke out at three units, including SR Budhiraja Hosiery, Budhiraja Textile and spread to Happy Khurana’s Hosiery at Dal Bazaar. Fire fighters took three days to douse the fire as the fire brigade could not enter the area.

On visiting the areas like Dal Bazaar, Gandhi Nagar, Chawal Bazaar, Hazoori, Pindi Bazaar, Madhopuri and Old City areas, many hosiery units were found running in area with narrow streets. These areas have buildings with more than five storeys and no emergency exits, which is a blatant violation of building bylaws.

Labourers’ lives at risk

Not only factories are being run from these high-rise buildings, labourers also reside in quarters in the same buildings. Sources said new buildings were also being constructed in violation of bylaws in these areas as officials concerned were hand in gloves with violators.

Badish Jindal, vice-chairman of the National Productivity Council, said, “There is no support from government to develop commercial areas in city. Moreover, 70% hosiery units lack fire safety arrangements. There is a need to develop a commercial area at the nearest place to shift these units, otherwise state government should install water pipes in such areas as a safety measure,” Jindal said.

Short-circuits in dangling wires lead to fire incidents as safety norms go for a toss

Increasing number of fire incidents occurring due to short-circuits in the city has brought to light the utter negligence of the authorities concerned as well as the owners of units in following fire safety norms. The sword of blame also hangs on the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) department, which has turned a blind eye towards dangling wires posing a risk of short-circuits.

A visit to Akalgarh market exposed such areas with loose wires hanging over the streets.

A shopkeeper, requesting anonymity, said, “Since, it is a market of garment clothes. Fire in one shop takes no times to spread to others. We have requested the PSPCL to change the old wires several times, but all in vain.”

PSPCL assistant executive engineer Gurmeet Singh Brar blamed the shopkeepers for not cooperating with the department and not following safety precautions. “So as to replace the wires, we have to cut the electricity supply for several hours, which is not acceptable to the shopkeepers,” he said.

He said, “Work to change wires has already been started in several areas, including Mali Ganj, Maleri Gali, Pindi Gali, Bijli Market, Kashmir Nagar, Harbanspura and Chora Bazaar. Since, Akalgarh market remains closed on Monday, we will deploy our workers on such days to avoid inconvenience to people.”Assistant fire officer Rajinder Sharma said, “Every year fire incidents occur due to short-circuits during summer. People can take safety measures to prevent them.”

(with inputs from Amarpal Singh)

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