Delhi

Cramped coaching centres worth the risk?

A view of the building which operates a few coaching centres in Rajinder Nagar in New Delhi on Saturday.

A view of the building which operates a few coaching centres in Rajinder Nagar in New Delhi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: R_V_Moorthy

The classrooms are crowded, but that is because there’s a lot of demand, say aspirants

At clusters of coaching centres in the Capital, students complained of cramped spaces but most of those who The Hindu spoke to on Saturday seemed to have accepted these conditions as part and parcel of studying at such ‘reputed’ places.

The sheer number of aspirants, juggling their academics along with their aspirations to join the ranks of either the civil services or chartered accountancy, required multiple round-the-clock classes coming together in batches at different pockets across the city.

Safety of structures

“In the basement where our classes take place, there are close to 600 students per batch. But the room is only meant for 300 students,” said Sonal Lotha, who recently started preparing for the IAS exams at one such centres in Karol Bagh. But if you want to study at coaching centres, the crowds are expected, said Preeti, another IAS aspirant. While she felt the buildings didn’t seem to have any obvious structural issues, Ms. Preeti and a few others pointed out that there weren’t too many fire extinguishers around.

Close to the coaching centres in Karol Bagh, lie the charred remains of Hotel Arpit, where 17 people recently lost their lives in a fire due to building norm violation. “It’s only the hotels that are dangerous. Most of the coaching centres here are safe,” argued Manoj Tiwari, a property dealer in the area.

Harsimran, a civil engineer, also studying at a centre here, was concerned about the strength of the structures. “Most buildings here don’t follow the ductile code, which determines the amount of steel there should be in a building. It was introduced after the Bhuj earthquake, to ensure the safety of structures,” Since most people want to cut costs, they skimp on it, he said.

The cramped Laxmi Nagar which hosts several institutes for Chartered Accountancy coaching open on to the main road and run in narrow lanes. All the students The Hindu spoke to were content with the safety precautions. “It seems congested from the outside but there are fire extinguishers everywhere,” said Yash Bhatia, a student. Ashwin, another CA aspirant said, “Sure it’s crowded, but that’s because there’s a lot of demand. There are also a lot of offices in the area which adds to the crowd. But precautions are taken and there hasn’t been any incident like in Surat here.”

 

Commenting on the measures for fire safety at coaching centres in Laxmi Nagar, Munirka, Kingsway Camp, and other such locations, Delhi Fire Services’ chief fire officer Atul Garg pointed out that these establishments were not regulated and thus, did not need NOCs. “We can’t conduct an audit of coaching centres, particularly, because of the same and are planning the next step after the Surat tragedy,” he said, adding that the problem of cramped lanes and fire tenders reaching at such locations is infrastructural, irrespective of whether the area is commercial or residential.

Karol Bagh hotel fire

Meanwhile, after Karol Bagh hotel fire in February, the department is conducting a drive to check fire safety measures in restaurants, hotels and guest houses in specific areas in Delhi, Mr. Garg said. While checks had been conducted in Karol Bagh, they would also be carried out in the Paharganj area shortly, he said. When asked if Delhi is prepared for a calamity like Surat, Mr. Garg claimed to be a 100% sure. “The recent example is a massive Nehru Place fire in Vishal Tower on Thursday in which 30 people who were stuck inside the building were rescued. Not even person sustained any injury. We are better trained to deal with such calamities,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 9:01:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/cramped-coaching-centres-worth-the-risk/article27250526.ece

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