K.N. Murali Sankar
Three-member committee to inspect buildings from first week of May
VIJAYAWADA: Residents of apartment complexes in the city are worried about the `unexpected expenditure' of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000 per flat that they have to bear in view of the civic body's insistence on installation of fire-fighting equipment in all residential complexes of a height of 18 metres and above.
The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has issued orders seeking a declaration from the welfare associations of all high-rise buildings that their buildings are equipped with the required devices to combat fire. Though the declarations have to be filed on or before April 30, welfare associations of many apartment complexes are yet to meet to discuss the issue.
Fine to be levied
The VMC has made clear that fine will be levied on buildings that do not have fire-fighting devices like extinguishers, hose reel, manual fire alarm and separate water tank. It has appointed a three-member committee to inspect buildings from the first week of May.
The issue of fire safety in commercial and residential complexes came to the fore in the wake of the major fire that broke out in Catholic Centre Complex (head office of the Agri Gold group of companies) on the Mahatma Gandhi Road on February 27.
Consequently, the VMC and the Fire Services Department sought to enforce some of the existing norms and also make it mandatory for builders to take care of installation of the fire-fighting equipment in buildings that are under construction. In the case of buildings already under occupation, it is the responsibility of welfare associations.
The equipment is expected to cost Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh, based on the size of the building.
"It's very difficult to collect Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 to take up repair works in the complex. For fire-fighting equipment, we need to collect at least Rs. 2 lakhs. I don't know how we can complete this task," says K. Srinivasa Rao, secretary of 70-flat Vaibhav Apartments Residents Welfare Association in Maruthi Nagar.
He says that the executive committee members are busy with their personal work and have decided to meet in the last week of this month to discuss the issue.
"Since it is a collective responsibility, I don't know how much time it will take to complete the work," he wonders.
Echoing a similar opinion, P. Bhagya Sekhar, secretary of Abhi Apartments Residents Welfare Association in Currency Nagar, feels that it is an additional burden on the residents who bought the flats just a year ago.
"If the officials are keen on implementing the rule, we will have no other choice but to buy the equipment," he says. "Though we have spent some money, we will collect it from the buyers in one way or the other.
But, for the flats that have already been sold and yet to be occupied, we have to bear the burden," says Y.V. Ramana Rao, general secretary of the Builders' Association-Vijayawada.