Karnataka Plans to Cut Water, Power Supplies to High-Rise Buildings Flouting Safety Norms

Karnataka Government said that it will stop electricity and water supplies to high-rise buildings – malls, multiplexes, auditoriums, and apartments – that are flouting safety norms.

The Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department issues “No-Objection Certificate” (NoC) to operationalise buildings that stand 15metres and above or buildings with ground plus four or more floors.

The High Court of Karnataka had directed the State government to carry out fire audits of all high-rise buildings following the Carlton Towers tragedy in February, 2010.

Home Minister K J George, who reviewed the fire audit of high-rise buildings across cities in the State with Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department Director General of Police M N Reddy, said Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerages Board (BWSSB) would be asked to disconnect electricity and water supplies to high-rise buildings in the State Capital that found violating safety norms.

In other cities, respective electricity supply companies and Karnataka Water Supply and Sewerage Board would be asked to stop power and water supplies to buildings that are flouting safety rules.

The department has been conducting one-time safety audit of all high-rise buildings located in cities. Developers of several old and new malls, apartments, auditoriums and commercial complexes have obtained non-objection certificates from the department but later failed to install fire safety norms. There was no periodical inspection of these buildings. During the audit, which commenced a few months ago, the department commenced the process of identifying such buildings that violated safety norms, he said.

Poor progress:

Fire safety norms in more than 20,000 high-rises in Bengaluru left much lot to be desired. Over six months after the deadline for the fire audit of all high-rise buildings expired, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has completed the process only on 1,667 buildings, as against an estimated 20,000 high-rises in the city. The department has even failed to identify the number of such buildings in the city.

The department has issued no-objection certificates to 2,625 high-rise buildings and clearance certificates only to 890 buildings. The government vested powers with the fire department to inspect these buildings in 2011 and set April 2012 as the deadline to complete fire audits.

The deadline was extended to December 2013, which was not met. Officers were now undertaking a field survey, identifying high-rises and conducting a fire audit, which was time consuming. Fire audit of a building takes at least three months. Also hindering the progress was acute shortage of human resources that plagued the department.

 

Andhra Pradesh Medical Council said the government should relax the fire safety norms in private nursing homes, hospitals:

Meanwhile, in Andhra Pradesh Medical Council said the government should relax the fire safety norms to be implemented in private nursing homes and hospitals across the State, citing that it was practically tough to implement the existing norms.

Hospitals in the State have to get their licenses renewed by September 1 and it is mandatory for managements to obtain a NOC from the Fire Services Department. Unless the managements install the fire safety measures, the Fire Services Department does not issue NOC. It is tough for a small hospital to install fire sprinklers, maintain a dedicated power supply and water tanks for fire safety measures.

It costs about Rs.25 lakh to install the fire safety norms. If a hospital and nursing home is operated in the first floor of a commercial complex, the Fire Department insists clearance for the entire complex, explains a doctor.