Dwarka: The national capital region is witnessing many fire incidents in the recent past. The Anaj Mandi incident has already shaken everyone as it claimed 43 lives. People are really worried whether we are lacking in planning and infrastructure as far as disaster management is concerned.
The incidents have made the subject of fire safety and its management a hot topic of discussion these days in the community. Such incidents alert us against any odd situation in the residential pockets as far as the fire fighting equipment and their maintenance are concerned.
The incidents have brought the question whether we are living with proper safety mechanism or not. CitySpidey visited many societies in Dwarka and talked to the residents on the subject of fire fighting arrangements and their maintenance. The outcome of the meeting was surprising as people did not know about the status of the system and in some of them were not even aware about the system.
The multi-storied buildings of CGHS (Cooperative Group Housing Societies) and also the multi-storied buidings made by DDA in Dwarka are lacking in fire fighting arrangements. In most of the societies, the fire fighting systems have either damaged or in non-functional state. One could see them by visiting randomly in any society of the Dwarka.
Broken pipes, damaged alarms, missing tools and many such things are common in those societies. In the DDA’s multi-storied buildings, the condition is more pathetic. In any case of fire, the societies in Dwarka are under risk of potential threat to lives of the people as the disaster management for fire is almost missing.
According to the residents, the awareness is very poor in the community for the subject and also the managements of the societies are least bothered about the maintenance of the system. On the other hand, the fire department only act on any complaint against the ill-maintained fire fighting system in the societies.
In Dwarka, there are more than 300 multi-storied residential societies. The societies had got NOC from the fire department. According to rules, the certificates were valid for five years. Also, every year, the societies had to give a report that the fire fighting systems were in working condition. But, ironically, it never happened in most of the societies which could be seen by visiting the societies and looking at the installed equipment.
General Secretary of Federation of Cooperative Group Housing Socities, Dwarka, Sudha Sinha said, “This is unfortunate that the managements are often not serious about the maintenance of the fire fighting systems. They take it lightly even when there is a serious issue. We tried to promote it and make the community aware but after all, it is in hands of managements and the people.”
Residents in the societies are often reluctant to say anything against the management. In that way, in most of the societies, neither the management or RWA nor the residents make any effort to improve the system. Whether it is a commercial building, society or DDA flat, the condition remains the same.
As said by the people living in the societies, fire fighting systems were installed about 15 to 20 years back for the purpose of getting approval or NOC. But they have not been maintained properly. If there is an incident, none of these systems would be of any help.
“Managing committees come and go in every society, but no attention is given towards this vital requirement. If the system hasn't been tested properly, it can put everyone's lives at risk. In the absence of fines and penalties, occupiers or societies do not bother to conduct regular maintenance of the installed fire prevention system. Therefore, it is need of the community as well as authorities to think and plan out a method to have a full-proof fire prevention and fire fighting system,” said Rakesh Kumar, resident of Sector 6.
People who are aware and want to raise the issue shared that the negligence is on both the parts, from the side of agencies and also from the side of the society’s managements too.
Rejimon CK, an RTI activist, has been writing the subject to the authorities. He said, “This is the responsibility of the people and also the fire department and disaster management department. The Delhi Fire Act must be applied with strictness by the authorities and it must be respected by the societies. After all, this is a matter of our lives. There must be penalty on the societies if they do not maintain the norms by submitting the certificate for fitness of the system every year.”
One of the fire department officials said on the condition of anonymity that the societies were not serious about the subject and the number of renewal of certificates was very low. “This is unfortunate that there is a very poor response from the side of the society’s managements. Most of the societies are not following the norms,” he said.
According to officials, only those societies were taken for inspection, for which, any complaint was received for the fire fighting system. As said by them, few complaints were received and societies were sent notices to get the fire fighting system functional in 90 days. If the work does not get completed in three months then there is a provision to give another 90 days. If they do not go for maintenance and fitness of the system, then action can be taken by cutting the connection of water and electricity.
When CitySpidey asked if there is any case of discontinuance of connection in the societies in Dwarka, he replied that he could not remember any such case. Now the whole thing is upon the community and the managements of the societies to keep the fire fighting system maintained to fight with any odd condition.