Special Correspondent

Meeting with building owners to be convened soon

  • No concerted effort to check the trend
  • Notices served on 51 builders last year

    VIJAYAWADA: Tuesday's fire mishap at the Agri Gold office in Catholic Complex on the Bandar Road came as one more wake-up call to authorities, more particularly those in the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation and the Fire Services Department.

    Even as many builders continue to resort to flagrant violation of fire safety norms, especially by not obtaining the mandatory `No-Objection Certificate' (NOC) from the Fire Services Department before beginning construction of a high-rise building, there has been a very little concerted effort to check the trend.

    Statutory rules

    As per the statutory norms, it is mandatory for all commercial buildings of a height of 15 metres and above (usually referred to as Ground+5) and residential buildings of 18 metres and above (Ground+6) to have the NOC from the Fire Services Department, which will have to be submitted for approval of the building plan by the urban local body.

    The Fire Services Department has no authority to issue an NOC post-facto, i.e. after the construction is completed.

    This apart, as per the National Building Code, any G+2 structure should have fire safety equipment in each floor.

    Needless to say, a good number of old high-rise buildings in the city, including the ill-fated Catholic Complex, have no NOC.

    Such buildings do not have the required minimum space around for free movement of fire tenders, as seen on Tuesday, nor do they have more than one exit point with a spiral staircase with the minimum required width.

    District Fire Officer (DFO) M. Murali Mohan said that the department had identified 86 buildings that violated fire safety norms. The department served notices on 51 buildings a year ago. But, none of them responded so far. Consequently, the matter was referred to the Vigilance Department.

    These apart, five buildings had provisional NOC but without any fire safety measures.

    Mr. Gulzar said that the VMC, along with the City Police and the Fire Services Department, would convene a meeting with the owners of all such buildings in the city in an attempt to implement the possible measures to prevent recurrence of Tuesday's kind of accidents.