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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Fire at School of Planning and Architecture’s ITO hostel raises safety concerns

Students of the institute blamed the authorities for negligence and lack of proper infrastructure that led to Thursday’s fire.

delhi Updated: Oct 27, 2017 00:08 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
A Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times
The room that caught fire.
The room that caught fire.

A fire broke out at a room in the girl’s hostel at the School of Planning and Architecture’s ITO campus early Thursday after an alleged short circuit, drawing criticism from the students over ‘poor facilities’.

The residents of the room said the fire damaged a lot of their important possessions, including clothes, study material and documents such as passports and certificates.

Students of the institute blamed the authorities for negligence and lack of proper infrastructure that led to Thursday’s fire.

Eyewitnesses said the fire was first noticed in the room around 5:30am and the fire brigade immediately informed.

“We received a call around 6 am about a fire at the SPA hostel. We sent six fire tenders to the spot and the fire was brought under control within 25 minutes,” said a Delhi Fire Service official.

The room was shared by three students — Roxanne Jojo, Gayatri Nair and Sonali Rane. Jojo was the only person present inside the room when the fire was first noticed. She was not hurt.

Students said they were alerted about the fire by screams of some guards, the sound of glass breaking and the smell of smoke. The hostel has no fire alarms.

“I was awake at the time and was working on an assignment. When I first heard the commotion, I thought it must be a snake as that is quite common here. But then I smelt smoke,” said a student.

“I don’t want to talk to about it,” Jojo told HT on Thursday.

Students later staged a protest and said against the ‘poorly maintained facilities and negligence on the part of the authorities’ had led to Thursday’s fire.

The students said the hostel had no separate fire exits, regular fire drills were not conducted and fire alarms were non-existent.

“This is not the first time an untoward incident has happened because of shoddy wiring. We have spoken to the authorities about this many times, but there has been no action,” said Hilor Sharma, a student at the school.

Sonali Rane, one of the occupants of the room, said she was an NRI student and the loss of her passport would cau her immense problem.

“I don’t know if I will be able to go back to visit my family in Kuwait ever now,” said Rane.

Students said the fire brigade responded promptly and the blaze was contained to just one room.

Thursday’s incident, students said, was a disaster waiting to happen at one of the Capital’s premier educational institutions.

“This is a premier institution but our roofs are collapsing and there are sparks in our plug points. Water and food here is contaminated and students fall ill every other day,” said a student.

The dean, planning and development, VK Paul, said that the authorities were assessing the damage and may offer each student Rs 60,000 as compensation for their loss.

“The building was built in 1960 and it probably does not comply with all safety guidelines of today. We had got the electrical system repaired in 1999-2000. We are aware the electrical system is vulnerable. Overloading keeps happening as students now have phones, laptops and some even use unauthorised heavy devices like coolers. We had written to the CPWD before the fire to conduct an audit of the electrical system,” said Paul.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 00:07 IST

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