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No rules to regulate coaching centres, fire dept tells Delhi HC

The DFS told the court that most coaching centres were running from buildings meant for residential purposes and other occupancies, without changing the exit parameters — width of doors, corridors and staircases.

delhi Updated: Sep 19, 2019 17:30 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
New Delhi
Atul Garg, Chief Fire officer, DFS, said the coaching centres have not been regulated to date because the type of occupancy is not defined unlike schools. He said no permission is sought from DFS to start such coaching centres.
Atul Garg, Chief Fire officer, DFS, said the coaching centres have not been regulated to date because the type of occupancy is not defined unlike schools. He said no permission is sought from DFS to start such coaching centres.(HT FILE)
         

Delhi Fire Services (DFS) on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that they do not have any provisions to regulate fire safety and stability at coaching centres as these are not covered under the Delhi Fire Service Rules.

In the last hearing, Chief Justice DN Patel, referring to the May 24 fire at a coaching centre in Surat that left 22 dead, had said these centres run air-conditioners in small places to accommodate more students and risk their lives. He said these centres were consuming more power than the sanctioned amount, leading to chances of short circuit.

In an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, DFS said the Delhi Fire Services Rules 2010 contained provisions to enforce fire and safety provisions of the Building By Laws or the National Building Code in India in residential buildings that are likely to cause risk of fire.

“It is submitted that coaching centres are not covered under Delhi Fire Service Rules. A meeting was held by the Chief Secretary, Delhi, on August 28 and proposed the constitution of an expert committee by the government to study the requirement of fire and safety measures (including structural parameters) and to fix the occupancy of coaching centres,” said the affidavit filed through advocate Gautam Narayan, additional standing counsel of the Delhi government.

The court was hearing a couple of pleas, one filed by Kanchan Gupta through advocate Prashant Manchanda, seeking directions to the authorities to stop illegal coaching centres in Mukherjee Nagar.

The DFS told the court that most coaching centres were running from buildings meant for residential purposes and other occupancies, without changing the exit parameters — width of doors, corridors and staircases.

“The existing parameters do not meet the exit requirements for occupants in case of any emergency and pose a challenge for evacuation,” the DFS said in the affidavit, adding an inspection was conducted at coaching centres running from high-rise buildings (above 15m height) on home minister Satyendra Jain’s orders.

“33 coaching centres were inspected by Delhi Fire Services and shortcomings were communicated to them as per the law...Subsequently, no compliance has been received so far from any of the coaching centres,” DFS said.

Atul Garg, Chief Fire officer, DFS, said the coaching centres have not been regulated to date because the type of occupancy is not defined unlike schools. He said no permission is sought from DFS to start such coaching centres.

“There is no law to regulate coaching centres that started on a smaller scale but have now grown four-fold. Other buildings can be regulated because of defined occupancy. However, coaching centres start from small rooms and their occupancy is not defined,” Garg said.

On Wednesday, advocate Prashant Manchanda, appearing for one of the petitioners, filed a status report stating that Kanchan Gupta had personally inspected a few illegal commercial properties that were earlier sealed.

Manchanda said these have now been either unsealed or used for other commercial activities such as paying guest accommodation, which are equally hazardous.

First Published: Sep 19, 2019 05:06 IST

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