The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) will conduct an inspection of eateries which have not procured fire safety clearance because they claimed to have seating for less than 50 people. Leader of the SDMC health committee, B S Tokas, has written a letter to the Medical Health Officer asking him to form a team, which would conduct surprise inspections during the night.
“All the violations in these pubs and restaurants happen during the night. We do not want a Mumbai-like incident in Delhi, and accommodating more people than the permissible number can cause a stampede in case of fire,” said Tokas.
Sources said the raids are likely to be conducted between 6 pm and 9 pm. There have even been reports of hookah bars being functional in several areas of south Delhi, such as Satyaniketan, under the garb of eateries, he said. These eateries serve hookahs at night, he said.
The Delhi government had banned hookah bars and had asked Delhi Police as well as the municipal corporations to cancel licences of all restaurants with hookah bars. Hookah smoking is not allowed in smoking or non-smoking zones under Section 4 of COTPA (Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act).
“I have written to officials and the night inspection team is likely to be functional in the next 15 days. The team will comprise four to five members and will include medical health officers, district health officers and public health inspectors, apart from other officials,” he said.
Sources in the south corporation said several pubs in Hauz Khas, Greater Kailash and other areas of south Delhi exploit the 50-seat rule to avoid getting fire clearances.
The rule states that only eateries and bars which have a seating capacity of more than 50 people need to procure fire safety clearance and have a fire exit. However, many restaurants cram far more people than that during peak hours, flouting norms, sources said.