Exit route space meant for fire emergencies being used to park vehicles
It's a popular hangout with a complete bouquet of services ranging from shopping to entertainment to eating out. Owing to its location in the heart of city and endless leisure and shopping opportunities it offers, Hyderabad Central at Punjagutta is indeed a one-stop destination.
While this mall attracts shoppers and movie buffs in large numbers, not many realise that the management is over-utilising the open space earmarked for fire emergencies thus putting the lives of visitors at risk in case of a mishap.
The management has been ‘brazenly' overusing the exit route space to park bikes despite having enough parking place in the cellars.
Rules stipulate that any commercial high-rise structure with a height of 15 metres and above should have a minimum of six metres wide open space on all four sides to facilitate fire tenders to enter the premises and effectively carry out fire-fighting operation.
But, the Hyderabad Central management has been allowing two-wheeler parking at the exit route on the mall's rear side in violation of norms. More shockingly, bikes are being parked in front of a fire hydrant, besides the open space being used for dumping carton boxes and other waste material, say officials.
They explain that the reaction time is more important in case of a fire breaking out and every minute is precious in preventing casualties and reducing the extent of property damage. “How can we take up fire-fighting operation if the open space meant for movement of fire tenders is encroached?” ask officials.
Vehicle owners would be on the upper floors of the mall and tracing them to get their vehicles shifted is a Herculean task in case of a fire mishap, they maintain. At least 5,000 to 6,000 people throng the mall to either watch a movie at one of the three screens or have food at restaurants or indulge in shopping.
The management, however, says that the parking is allowed on weekends only, in case of a sudden rise in turnout. “We permit vehicle parking near the exit route only after the cellar is full. Vehicle owners pick up arguments with us if we fail to allow them,” says security officer Adinarayana.
He adds that the security staff is fully trained to deal with the fire-fighting exercise. Water storage tank with a capacity of two lakhs gallons, sprinkler system, fire hydrant and other equipment have been installed in the mall, he claims.