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6 Delhi high-rises to be sealed on Monday

By Tushar Bhaduri in New Delhi
April 27, 2003 16:22 IST
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Close on the heels of the landmark verdict in the Uphaar tragedy case, six high-rise buildings in the national capital, including Super Bazar in Connaught Place, would be sealed on Monday for their failure to adhere to the 12-point safety norms issued by the Delhi Fire Service.

Deepshikha, Hemkunt Towers, Pragati Bhawan, Shakuntala Apartments and Guru Angad Bhawan are the other high rises whose fate would be literally sealed on Monday, Chief Fire Officer R C Sharma told PTI.

Another prominent building, Sagar Apartments has escaped sealing for now as its Receiver has asked for some more time to fulfill the necessary requirements, he said.

"We had written to the proprietors of these buildings many times to comply with the guidelines. We had issued warnings to them in September last year itself," Sharma said adding, "When they seemed to have had no positive effect, we had to order that these buildings be sealed."

He said the buildings could become functional again once the fire service verifies that all safety provisions are in order.

"Some owners say these regulations were not in place when they constructed these buildings. Hence, they are reluctant to bear the additional financial burden."

He said the burden of compliance depended on the size of a particular building but estimated it to be in the range of Rs 30-50

per square feet.

Sharma said that Shakuntala Apartments and Guru Angad Bhawan have already complied with some of the provisions.

Besides the high-rise buildings, slum clusters in the capital were major fire hazards, particularly this summer,  'due to the utter disregard for safety norms'.

"The material used for construction of these slums and what is stored in them is highly combustible and could produce toxic gases if a fire breaks out," he said.

"The chalta hai (casual) attitude of the residents is a big impediment to ensuring fire safety," he said lamenting that there was never enough space to allow easy passage to fire tenders.

"All our requests in this regard have fallen on deaf ears," he said.

Illegal power connections, with the inherent dangers, were another reason for worry, Sharma pointed out. In the heat, the chances of these igniting a blaze increase manifold.

"Anti-social elements try to start a fire so that they can loot taking advantage of the chaos," Sharma said adding sometimes the owners try the trick to avail higher compensation in the absence of verification of their claims.
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Tushar Bhaduri in New Delhi
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