M. Srinivas

158 movie halls in city do not have minimum safeguards

  • Ventilation not provided in 420 theatres
  • Fire vehicles cannot be operated in 735 theatres

    HYDERABAD: A staggering 2,158 theatres, including 158 in the city and its suburbs, are potential firetraps, according to the Andhra Pradesh Fire Services Department.

    This was found during the second-phase inspection conducted by the department last month. Shockingly, 1,561 cinema theatres that had already been declared unsafe after inspection in 2005 still do not have minimum fire safety measures despite repeated advice to theatre owners.

    Court order

    After taking serious note of the situation, the High Court had earlier stated that licences of cinema halls should not be renewed until the theatre managements ensured safety measures without involving structural changes. "As is evident, there was little or literally no response," officials explained.

    More surprisingly, none of these 2,158 theatres are provided with fire-fighting systems as per the National Building Code. In some theatres exit routes are so narrow that a stampede-like situation prevails after completion of every show and one can well imagine the scenario in case of a fire breaking out. There is no emergency lighting at exit points, corridors and staircases in 1,806 theatres and worse, fire-fighting vehicles cannot be operated in 735!

    Recommendations

    Fire Services Director-General Alok Srivastava said a list of fresh recommendations such as shifting of parking place, generator room, canteen etc. along with a copy of deficiencies in each theatre would be forwarded to the local licensing authority (Police Commissioner in cities and Collector in districts) within a week seeking follow-up action. The same would also be sent to theatre managements.

    "We are also requesting authorities to direct theatre owners to reduce the capacity of seats if exit route is not provided as per the rules," he said, adding that hereafter a separate file of each theatre with its deficiencies would be maintained for verification.