Establishments Obtain Fire NOC, But Violate Norms At Will
Around 200 hotels clustered on Tank Road and Gurudwara Road in Karol Bagh are ticking time bombs. While all of them had managed to procure fire safety clearances, they were found flouting rules rampantly. From rooftop restaurants to bars in the basement, most of the owners have constructed wooden flooring and fibre glass ceilings to compete with each other.
Fire officials said that the owners apply for NOCs citing the hotels as guesthouses. “Hotel Arpit Palace had clearances only for rooms, not for kitchen or restaurant. The owners had constructed these structures after receiving the certificates,” said Atul Garg, chief fire officer, Delhi Fire Service.
Residents said that lately a series of spas had spawned on Tank Road beside these hotels. Fire officials said none of them had approached the department for fire safety clearance.
“We cannot deny that rules are flouted often, but we instruct hotel owners to meet the norms. Unless there is a mishap, no one bothers about the rules. From now on, we will be strict regarding flouting of fire norms,” said Sandeep Khandelwal, president of Karol Bagh hotel owners’ association.
Ajay Vinayak, a hotel owner, said that most establishments have installed fire hydrants, but some of them flout the norms to get more out of the limited space. “We cannot physically conduct checks, but keep alerting them about safety. This accident is an eye-opener for us all,” he added.
Most of the buildings in which the big hotels are running are more than 30 years old, said fire officials. Some of them were sanctioned as residential buildings and later converted to commercial. However, no changes were made to the structures apart from temporary beautification. Fire safety drills are also rarely conducted. The inspections conducted by municipal officials are mere eyewash, locals alleged.
An RTI filed by a resident in 2018 revealed that 139 hotels didn’t have the requisite fire clearances. Moreover, cylinders and cooking equipment were stored on the terraces.
Meanwhile, Balan Mani, vice-president of Delhi Hotel Association, said, “A fire in the ducting led to the blaze spreading to all rooms. All norms were followed and a licence was issued only after inspection. Mishaps can occur in a house as well.”