August 2, 2021 12:04:02 am
The state government in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court said that relaxation in compliance with Building Use (BU) permission rules doesn’t mean any relaxation in the issuance of a fire safety certificate and the statutory compliance with the fire safety norms under the Fire Safety Act, 2013. It was explaining its July 8 notification that directed that no coercive action should be taken against the buildings having no BU permission till three months from December 31, 2021, which is the last date of applicability of the Gujarat Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulation, 2020.
The Supreme Court in a suo motu matter looking at the fire safety and fire NOC issue in Gujarat hospitals had at the last hearing in July pulled up the state government. The court was referring to the July 8 notification of the Gujarat Urban Development and Urban Housing Department wherein it gave hospitals and nursing homes time till March 2022 to comply with the BU norms.
The court said that the order was tantamount to saying these hospitals will not have to comply with the order till the given time when the court had in December last year asked Covid care hospitals that had not obtained No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from the state fire department to immediately apply for the same.
Following the SC’s remarks, the Gujarat government on July 23 issued a second order, clarifying that the July 8 order only pertained to compliance with Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act and not the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, further stating that for any premise non-complaint with the latter, competent authorities “shall continue to take all actions, including coercive actions…”
The affidavit filed by the additional chief secretary of the urban development and urban housing department of Gujarat government, Mukesh Puri, on July 28, states, “While fire safety certificate is one of the necessary pre-requisites for grant of BU permission, there is no requirement of BU permission for granting the fire safety certificate. Relaxation with regard to extension of time for obtaining BU permission does not permit any relaxation in the requirement for issuance of fire safety certificate.”
As per the affidavit, as of July 28, 1,101 hospitals in the state are operating without valid fire NOCs.
Apprising the SC of the actions taken in this regard, the affidavit states, “The state authorities have taken action against non-compliant entities, including issuance of show-cause notices to more than 1,500 hospitals in the state and disconnection of water supply for 30 hospitals. 185 hospital premises were partially sealed for want of fire safety certificates and after ensuring due compliance with fire safety norms, including fire NOCs, they have been reopened… as on date, there are 5,705 hospitals in the state, of which 4,604 have fire NOCs under the 2013 Act.”
The SC is expected to hear the matter on August 2.
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