None of the 117 cold storages in operation in the district has obtained the Occupational No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the Fire and Emergency Services Department. The Occupational NoC has been made mandatory for the cold storages to become operational as per the A.P Fire Services Act, 1999.
The Fire Department had inspected all the 117 cold storages during May-June after successive fires in three cold storages at Ankireddypalem had left behind a trail of destruction and destroyed farm produce worth crores.
An Occupational NoC makes it mandatory on the part of cold storage owners to provide precautionary and preventive safety measures like open space width of 6 metres around the unit, installation of fire detection systems, installation of fire alarm systems and minimum fire fighting systems. The Act makes it mandatory for providing a sump with a capacity of one lakh litres, yard hydrants, hose reel etc.
But cold storage owners have been managing to tweak the Fire Services Act and still get the NoC from the General Manager, District Industries Centre after getting a provisional NoC from the Fire Department.
The provisional NoC is given after submitting the plan by the cold storage managements with a condition that the owner should get the Occupational NoC before the operation of the plant.
``We have not heard about the Occupational NoC until the series of fire mishaps this year. Some of the cold storage units that were constructed after 2006 have installed fire safety systems, but they are not functional. We will hold a meeting of cold storage managements and convince them to get the NoC,'' secretary, Cold Storage Association, Surendra Babu said on Thursday
Stung by the revelations, the Department has now launched an aggressive campaign to encourage all the cold storage units to get the Occupational NoC. ``We have held three meetings so far and the cold storage units have sought time till the end of November. We will resume the inspections in the first week of December and take punitive action against those cold storage managements that have failed to get occupational NoC,'' said District Fire Officer B. Sudhakara Rao.