V. Geetanath

HYDERABAD: Relief is on the way for penthouse owners and other applicants requiring fire safety clearances to regularise their structures under the Building Penalisation Scheme. If the State accedes, their long pending applications can finally be processed without causing a big hole in the pocket.

GHMC has sought simplification of rules and also fee so that “minimum acceptable fire safety measures” can be taken up in the buildings. Instead of the standard up to 2.5 metre width alternate external staircase and insistence of putting up ladders with adjacent buildings as escape routes in case of any mishap, it has suggested spiral staircase or stairway equivalent to the fire service wing ladders.

There also could be some leeway in installing costly fire fighting equipment and tanks as the overwhelming opinion was that most of these steps were impractical for buildings that are a decade or more old. Discussions were held with the top officials of the Fire and Emergency Services Department to work out a tangible solution.

“We have urged the Department to look at high rise buildings on a case by case basis rather than applying one common formula for all. We can vary safety measures depending on the height of the building and location without compromising on the need to keep inmates safe in case of a mishap,” reasoned a senior official.

Steep penal fee for buildings (Rs. 50 per sq.ft of violated built up area and 24 per cent penalty per annum) which have not taken the ‘no objection certificate' too has been sought to be reconsidered. Substantial revenue will flow in even if such rationalisation is done, argue officials. GHMC's Fire Prevention Wing (FPW) had so far issued notices to 861 residential and 92 commercial buildings who have filed for BPS.

Other than these, the Wing has taken up inspection of all buildings housing schools, hospitals, malls, etc., following the fire mishap at a corporate hospital in Somajiguda.

Yet, despite drawing personnel from its parent department, the FPW headed by an Additional Director and formed following the recommendation of a high powered committee appointed by the High Court, has not vetted any building plans even after six months of coming into being. The FPW madate is to check buildings for fire safety and working condition of the equipment for residential buildings of 18 metres and commercial of 15 metres but all the building plans continue to be scrutinised by the parent department.