Dwarka markets are tinderboxes waiting to ignite
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Dwarka markets are tinderboxes waiting to ignite

There are no fire safety mechanisms for the building

Dwarka markets are tinderboxes waiting to ignite

Dwarka: With the onset of Summers, the concern of fire fighting systems in public and residential places comes into the public sphere. This year too the subject has been under discussion. CitySpidey decided to investigate the ground reality in Dwarka markets and brought out the major points on the surface showing how the marketplaces are unsafe in case of a fire.

Dwarka is said to be one of the most planned sub-cities of Delhi developed by DDA. But when you look at its infrastructure and disaster management, you would be surprised that the markets are vulnerable and fire unsafe. There emerge several fronts on which the authorities and the people both have failed.

Authorities have compromised with the fire safety measures and planning. On the other hand, the people of markets have made the situation worse by grabbing additional space and having no such fire fighting systems.

Lack of awareness and fire fighting system
As gathered, the majority of people at the markets are unaware of any such arrangements, while some aware shop owners have a fire extinguisher for their own shops. However, there are no fire safety mechanisms for the building as a commonplace or for the markets as a whole. This could prove dangerous as the total number of shops is very large than those that have a fire extinguisher.

According to the norms, a shop having 100 feet floor should have an underground fire fighting arrangement while the shops less than that should keep small extinguishers.

Rejimon CK, an RTI activist and a resident of Sector 22 says, "Neither DDA nor MCD cares about fire safety mechanisms.
But in an ideal situation, there must be a strict check on that.”

Violation of laws
The markets in Dwarka have faulty infrastructure and suffer from violations of the law of DDA making the building unsafe for fire. Though there has not been any big incident of fire in Dwarka in the past yet small fire incidents that were controlled by the fire brigade have been reported. Some incidents happened in the eateries on the ground floor while some were on the other floors due to short circuits. Some incidents also happened on stairs due to short circuits and naked wire fittings in the stairs.
According to DDA Buildings by-laws, for Mixed Land Use markets MLUs, cooking is not allowed on the ground floor. There are hundreds of eateries in Dwarka and most of them are without any fire fighting system as defined in the norms for such shops.

The condition of Sector 4, Sector 6, Sector 10 and Sector 12 markets is serious as they have many food joints which have ground floor cooking food even in corridors by encroaching the area. Not only this but the backside of markets such as in Sector 10 and 6 are being used against the law for cooking.

Poor design and infrastructure for evacuation
In almost all the markets, there is a lack of evacuation or emergency escape passage. These are missing, closed or encroached. Such negligence is being observed by both the civic authority and the people in the market. The rooftops are mostly locked and the free passage from one building to another is grabbed or closed.

People at Sector 11 market shared about a fire incident that happened on the staircase of a block due to open naked wires. People helped the students studying in a coaching institute by taking them to the rooftop by breaking the lock.

On this, Anuj Sinha, a civil engineering expert says, “Every building is made so that there is a space to escape in an emergency in case of fire. Also in markets, there should be dedicated fire tender places that are earmarked and always left reserved so that there would be no problem in parking those vehicles. It is the responsibility of the civic bodies and police both that such open spaces should be free of encroachment so that in an emergency people could use them to save their lives.”

Violation of NBC guidelines
According to National Building Code, no such electrical wiring or fittings should be in the staircases. The NBC says that no living space, store or another fire risk shall open directly into staircases. Also, no electrical shaft, AC ducts or gas pipe etc shall pass through or open in the staircases. Stairs should be supplemented by lifts and ramps. But here in those markets rampant violation of such codes could be seen.

Expert on the subject Civil Engineer Anuj Sinha says, “Such violations are serious and must be taken in that way. Electrical fittings or wirings or any such things should be installed in the staircases. Such a thing could cause fire incidents any time and lead to a serious threat to human lives.”