The fire at the terrace of the four-storey Gold Towers on Monday has once again brought to light the absence of a systematic review of the safety and security measures in high rise buildings in the city. Buildings with more than three storeys are defined as high rises.

At the Gold Towers on Residency Road, where a homa resulted in a major fire which fortunately injured no one, officials found many fire safety transgressions.

After the February 23 fire at the Carlton Towers on HAL Airport Road, where nine young people died, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the authority empowered to look at building safety, made the usual noises about the measures being taken to review high rises. Even 40 days later, the palike is yet to set the ball rolling on that count.

Pinning responsibility

The collapse of a portion of building in the Prestige Shantiniketan in Whitefield during October 2008 had drawn the attention of the Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde, who submitted a report in which he fixed the responsibility on the local Assistant Executive Engineers and the Town Planners of the BBMP as they “were issuing permissions for developments and not taking responsibility of monitoring it”.

On its part, the Fire and Emergency Services Department has, in its report submitted on March 29, placed before the State Government, the problems it faces.

It has asked for a multi-agency to inspect facilities in high rises every two years but is yet to hear from the Government.

There has been mixed response to the Police Commissioner's March 1 direction to owners/occupants of high rise buildings asking them to submit to the jurisdictional police inspectors the status of their buildings.

While the police are yet to hear from most, those who have responded are raising technical queries.

One of these has to do with the definition of a high rise. “They are showing us the permit for a two-storey building when the actual building is four-storeys,” said a police officer from the south zone.

Keywords: Safety measures

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