Residents' lives at stake as Dwarka societies flout fire safety norms
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Residents' lives at stake as Dwarka societies flout fire safety norms

Dwarka residents complained that there’s no awareness regarding fire fighting systems and the managements of the societies are least bothered about their maintenance.

Residents' lives at stake as Dwarka societies flout fire safety norms A fire fighting system in a Dwarka society

Many precious lives have been lost in recent incidents of fire breaking out in Delhi’s Kohat Enclave and Navada. Whereas a family of four died in the Kohat Enclave fire a week ago, the Navada factory fire resulted in the deaths of two workers on Tuesday. These tragic incidents have compelled people to pay attention towards safety and fire fighting systems in various parts of the city.

However, a look at the sub-city of Dwarka and its multi-storied societies is enough to prove that fire safety norms are not given due importance by the residents of the area.

Fire fighting systems in most of the high rise buildings of CGHS (Cooperative Group Housing Societies ) in Dwarka are either damaged or non-functional. Further, broken pipes, damaged alarms and tools can be witnessed lying all over the place in several societies.                             

According to the residents, there’s no awareness regarding fire fighting systems and the managements of the societies are least bothered about their maintenance. On the other hand, the fire department acts only in emergency situations or upon receiving any complaint against these systems.

Dwarka constitutes of more than three hundred and fifty high rise multi-storied residential societies. All the societies had applied for NOC from the fire department when they were being constructed. According to rules, these certificates are valid for five years.

Further, every year the societies had to submit a report whether or not the fire fighting systems installed in them were functioning properly. However, ironically, most of the societies have failed to follow this procedure.

Moreover, residents of the societies are reluctant to say anything against their management for fear of reprisals.

P Menon, Treasurer of Dwarka Forum and a resident of Ashirvad Apartments Sector 12, said, “In the wake of recent incidents of fire in several parts of Delhi, we have been forced to turn our attention towards fire fighting preparedness in Dwarka. Whether it is a commercial building, society or DDA flat; they are all suffering from the same situation. Fire fighting systems which had been installed at these places nearly fifteen to twenty years ago are not being maintained properly. Neither do the authorities conduct any periodical inspection on these systems nor do the societies get their NOC’s renewed. If any untoward incident happens, these wouldn’t be of any help. Managing committees visit every colony, but no attention is provided towards this vital necessity. In the absence of fines and penalties, residents or societies do not bother about the maintenance of these systems. Therefore, it’s important that the residents along with authorities take adequate measures to repair them. The disaster management department can also play a major role in this regard.”

People who aspire to raise the issue complain that both the agencies and society’s managements are responsible for the prevailing scenario.

Rejimon CK, President of Dwarka Forum who has been writing on the subject to the authorities, said, “This is the responsibility of the people, the fire department and the 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, our lives are at stake. There must be a penalty on the societies if they do not maintain the fire safety norms or get the NOC's of the fire fighting systems renewed.”

City Spidey spoke to MK Chattopadhyay, Divisional Fire Officer, West Zone, Delhi on this issue. He said that the societies were not serious about the subject and only a small number of NOCs regarding the fire fighting systems had been renewed.

“It’s unfortunate that such a serious issue has garnered a very poor response from the society’s managements. Most of the societies are not following the norms,” added Chattopadhyay.

City Spidey also spoke to Assistant Divisional Officer, West Zone, Satpal Bhardwaj regarding the matter. He said that the authorities had inspected the fire fighting systems of only those societies which had registered complaints on this issue.

“Once we receive some complaints, we send notices to the concerned societies to get their fire fighting systems repaired within a period of ninety days. If the work is not completed within this period, we give them another ninety days. However, if they fail to repair the systems even after the extended time period, we proceed to disconnect their water and electricity supply," Bhardwaj added. However, Bhardwaj couldn't remember that whether the authorities had disconnected water and electricity supply of any Dwarka society or not.