After Fire Killed 19 in B’luru, Mumbai Pubs, Is Hauz Khas Safe?

After Fire Killed 19 in B’luru, Mumbai Pubs, Is Hauz Khas Safe?

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“Since the fire at Kamala Mills in Bombay, my family is asking me not to go to Hauz Khas village to party,” said 30-year old Urvi, a resident of Delhi.

After five employees of a bar cum restaurant were killed in a fire that broke out on the wee hours of Monday, 8 January in Bengaluru, and a harmless evening of fun at a club in Mumbai turned into dread when 14 were killed in a fire on 28 December last month, fire safety is the need of the hour.

After the deaths in Bengaluru and Mumbai, the concern over fire safety in Delhi’s pubs and restaurants has loomed large. To run a quick check on the hub of clubs and restaurants, The Quint went to South Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village to determine if guidelines were being followed.

The visit proved worrisome after we found narrow staircases, staff who didn’t how to operate fire extinguishers, no alternate exits for rescue and relief, and pubs positioned in packed areas making it difficult for fire tenders to get to the spot.

We spoke to the Delhi Fire Services chief, Mr Mishra, who said two kinds of restaurants are functional in Delhi – one which gets a licence of 48-seats and don’t need to get a no-objection certificate from the Fire Services department, and the other which is a 48+ seater.

However, even those with the 48-seater licence (more than 90 percent of the bars) need to follow strict fire safety rules which demand trained staff, two fire exits at opposite ends to allow access in case one is blocked, two-meter wide staircases and a six-meter long road leading to the restaurant for fire tenders to function smoothly.

The video highlights the concerns regarding these guidelines being followed. However, this isn’t news to pub owners in the area.

Satinder Singh Sarna, president of Hauz Khas Village Traders Association said:

The biggest problem here is that the 600-meter long road entering Hauz Khas isn’t six meters wide. There are bikes and cars parked around. Hence, if a fire tender enters the area, it cannot be reversed. Even getting it re-filled will be highly chaotic.

Sarna added that there is a proposal to make that entire stretch only a pedestrian walkway so there is more place to move.

A PIL addressing these concerns is currently before the Delhi HC. As the clock keeps ticking are we waiting for a Kamala Mills-like incident to force us to act in Delhi?

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