Will order closure of K.R. Market if fire safety measures not put in place: HC

Asks how market complex can operate sans clearance certificate from Fire and Emergency Services Department

Published - March 27, 2019 09:02 pm IST

The bench told the BBMP to remove all illegal structures or shops in the market complex.

The bench told the BBMP to remove all illegal structures or shops in the market complex.

Observing that the Commissioner of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike would be arraigned as the prime accused if any fire accident occurs in K.R. Market, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday cautioned that it would not hesitate to order closure of the market if the BBMP fails to rectify within two weeks some of the serious lapses identified by the Fire and Emergency Service (F&ES) Department in the market complex.

“We could have ordered closure of K.R. Market immediately as the BBMP has not obtained a no objection certificate / clearance certificate (CC) for past two years despite a reminder by the F&ES Department indicating 19 serious fire safety lapses. But we are not ordering closure now keeping in mind the interest of traders, business activity, and daily wage employees depending on the market for their livelihood...,” the court observed.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice L. Narayana Swamy and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar made these observations during the hearing of a PIL petition, filed in 2017 by the Bengaluru Flower Merchants’ Association, K.R. Market, questioning BBMP’s action of putting up illegal shops blocking the entries to fire and emergency exits within the market complex.

‘No councillor or official will die’

“How the market complex could be allowed to function sans NoC/CC? No councillor or official will die in case of a fire accident in the market. It is always common and poor people visiting such places who lose their life for no fault of theirs. Don’t you remember fire accident at the Carlton House building in the city a few years ago,” the bench asked BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad, who had been summoned to explain the reasons for non-compliance of fire safety norms.

Remove illegal structures

The bench said that the BBMP should remove all illegal structures or shops put up in the market complex contrary to the sanctioned plan, and all types of the blockages, including any temporary structure or business, that come in the away of entry of fire services vehicles within two weeks.

The commissioner told the bench said that the BBMP has a plan for improving the facilities in the market complex and installing fire safety equipment at a cost of around ₹50 crore, and ₹2.7 crore has already been earmarked. A tender has been floated for procuring fire safety equipment, but it cannot be finalised in view of the election code of conduct.

However, the bench said that installing equipment can take some time, but priority should be to clear the way for entry of fire service vehicles and emergency exits, and removal of illegal structures and shops. All these measures should be executed in all markets in the city, the court said.

The court directed both the F&ES Department and the BBMP to inspect the market, execute the work and submit a progress report by April 3.

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