Barely a month after the fire tragedy in Surat that claimed 22 young lives on May 24, another incident of blaze was reported on Tuesday at a commercial complex in the city, from where a school was also being run.
The fire erupted in a screen printing unit on the ground floor of Balkrishna complex at Azad Nagar on Bhatar Road in Surat on Tuesday evening. Gyan Ganga Hindi Vidyalya functioned from the first floor. The students were immediately rescued and the school was sealed by fire department as it didn’t possess a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for fire safety.
There was no casualty as all present at the complex at the time of the fire were evacuated.
It took five fire tenders from Majura division to douse the flames in half an hour.
Surveys held, premises sealed yet no safety
After the death of 22 students in the fire incident in Takshashila Arcade, the fire department went on a checking spree in coaching centres and schools, apart from shops, banks, hospitals, etc., in Surat. Surveys were conducted at commercial places in all major cities of Gujarat. The Surat fire officials in a month surveyed a total of 2,074 tuition classes and schools, issued notices to 1,387 and 391 premises were sealed. A total of 2,330 places were surveyed in Surat, 1,974 issued notices and 926 sealed. However, small units like Gyan Ganga school skip the fire department’s purview to follow up the notices served. Officials attribute it to staff crunch.
The fire officials also checked the school and found that the authorities had not taken steps for fire safety. The fire officials then sealed the school and slapped a notice on the authorities.
Majura division fire official Prakash Patel said there was no casualty. “The cause of the fire was short circuit in the screen printing unit, owned by one Mukesh Patel,” he said.
The official added that they found that Gyan Ganga school did not follow fire-safety norms. “So we have sealed the school and slapped a notice on the authorities. After they install a fire-safety system and get an NOC, we will open the seal,” he said, adding they had slapped another notice on the school earlier. “We had slapped a notice on the school in the aftermath of Takshashila Arcade fire incident. But, they did not cooperate.”
Asked why the fire department didn’t take action then, Patel said the notice to Gyan Ganga was given around 15 days after the Takshahshila incident. “Generally 15-20 days time is given to the authorities to reply to our notice. In the meantime today’s incident happened and we have again slapped a notice on them,” he said.
After the fire incident in Takshashila Arcade at Sarthana on May 24, over 10 ten persons, including the coaching center owner; fire, DGVCL and Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) officials, apart from two builders of the complex, were arrested. At present, all of them are in judicial custody.