Srinagar 15 December (KNB): As Kashmir heads towards the era of development as claimed by the government after the Centre revoked J&K’s special status, the measures taken to prevent fire incidents and related disasters seem to be less stressed upon, be it in public or private structures already established or being constructed.
Last Week on 10 December new District hospital Bandipora, a government structure, was made partially functional but lacks the safety measures that are required to be taken as per Fire and Emergency service recommendations.
However, the government building was made partially functional in the presence of financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Department Atal Dullo along with Director Health services Kashmir Dr Sameer Matoo and Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Dr Owais Ahmad and other senior officers.
Talking to Kashmir News Bureau regarding the Fire and Safety measures taken in the Hospital, Bandipora Dr. Owais Ahmad said, “We’ve just shifted around 10 departments in the hospital for now but it is not fully functional yet. The installation of fire and safety apparatuses and other measures are under way. The work is still going on.”
When questioned, why has it been made partially functional if the safety equipments have not been installed yet?
He responded, “Just the OPD is functional too for non-essential nature, the OTs and wards are still operational at the old hospital.”
Talking to KNB Director Health services Kashmir Dr Sameer Matoo said, “Installation of fire and safety measures is underway, we are doing that! All the equipment’s will be installed soon.”
It is surprising that even in a government hospital safety measures take much time to get installed than to make the establishment functional.
Regarding the same, an official (on basis of anonymity) from the Fire and Safety Services J&K told KNB that they have already conducted the fire and safety audit of the hospital and have submitted the recommendations of safety equipments and other measures that the building lacks.
As per the audit done by the officers of the department, New District Hospital Bandipora lacks 10 important safety measures, required to tackle in any emergency situation.
Ironically, last one on the list is an ‘illuminated Exit sign’ which is yet to be displayed.
‘Act of God’ has become the justification for almost all the major fire and related incidents that have occurred in the past in Kashmir.
Located in Srinagar, City Walk Mall is one of the biggest malls in Kashmir but talk about the fire and safety measures taken in the building so far, undoubtedly ridicules it’s grand appearance.
Speaking to Kashmir News Bureau, one of it’s owners Bashir Ahmad said that they’ve kept the provision for all the fire and safety apparatuses but due the lockdowns, the work couldn’t be completed.
Surprisingly, the mall is open to everyone, even though partially because construction related work is still going on.
Bashir said, “The sprinklers have already been installed but unfortunately the company that is supposed to finish the related work is not based in Kashmir and after the post August lockdown followed by the pandemic situation, their workers have not been able to make it to the valley.”
Shops, food court, gaming for children, etc. all have been made available for the public to access. In case of any so-called ‘Act of God’, one of the biggest malls can witness one of the ugliest disasters of the valley.
When asked about the conduction of fire and safety audit and NOC required to obtain from the Fire and Emergency services of J&K before making the mall functional, Bashir tried to dodge the questions and said that during the recent Income Tax raid most of the documents were confiscated.
But regarding the same, an official (on basis of anonymity) from the Fire and Emergency Department told KNB altogether a different story in one sentence.
He said, “The department has not received any application regarding the conduction of fire and safety audit from the mall.”
Who is to be blamed here?
As per the business reform Action plan 2017, Floor plan, details of process and material used in the building with specific mention of hazardous/ inflammable material, details of provision of Fire and Safety systems/arrangements incorporated, details of capacity of storage (Raw materials and finished goods) are supposed to be provided in order to receive an NOC from the Fire and Emergency services of J&K.
The fact that the fire and safety audits barely take place in government buildings, Hotels, Schools, Hospitals, Coaching centers etc, have always put the life of innocent human beings at risk.
We can count so many incidents that cost the lives of people of Jammu & Kashmir and directly point a finger at the lack of fire and safety measures but can’t really do the same for Fire and Safety audits that have been conducted in the Union Territory.
Important to mention that even though a Fire Safety Audit is found to be an effective tool for assessing fire safety standards of an organization or occupancy, there are no clear-cut provisions in any of the fire safety legislation, regarding the scope, objectives, methodology and periodicity of a fire safety audit. (KNB)