The day that 14 people lost their lives due to a fire at a Mumbai pub, it was discovered that only 400 of the 5,000 restaurants, pubs and bars in the national capital have the required fire safety clearance.
Several eateries and bars were found to be flouting safety norms, as The Times of India reported.
Since there is rarely a physical spot check at the establishments, the restaurateurs can get away with gross violations, as fire officers pointed out.
One rule being particularly misused is that establishments, with seating capacity of less than 50 people, don’t need a safety clearance. So restaurant owners get certified under this, and use makeshift seating to accommodate far more people than permissible, which are removed when a check is done.
Senior municipal corporations officers confirmed that most of the 4,528 licenses they issued were to establishments claiming to seat 48-49 people.
With limited manpower, we are hard-pressed to carry out surprise checks...Still, over 7,000 challans have been issued in 2017 for violations of building code, unauthorised use of properties and for breaching the seating capacity.Senior Official
Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village are two hazardous areas which have very few and narrow exits, old houses and weakened structures. Khan Market shops have a single three-feet-wide staircase for entry and exit, and market officials stated that only 35 eateries and pubs sought fire clearance, even though a Delhi High Court directive made it mandatory for civic authorities to take action against violators.
Khan Market Welfare Association head and owner of Big Chill Anshu Tondon dismissed chances of blazes like Mumbai.
Agreed we have the problem of a single staircase for entry and exit, but this place only allows two-and-a-half storeys and does not represent a fire hazard that a multi-storeyed building does.
Businesses are wary of increasing load of eateries on the old buildings.
We were asked by New Delhi Municipal Council, after the fire in Mumbai, to install safety measures for New Year Eve, but a long term solution has to be found.Sanjiv Mehra, President, Khan Market Traders’ Association
Every three years, the no-objection certificate for fire safety is renewed post an audit, yet it was found that several restaurants in Hauz Khas Village were operating with expired certificates.
The head of the Greater Kailash I M Block Traders Association Rajinder Sharda alleged that there were around 15 eateries in the upmarket areas yet only three claimed over-50 seating and accordingly obtained the fire clearances.
In fact, eateries and pubs do have fire extinguishers, though we don’t have anything like a water tank or a joint fire-fighting system for the entire market.