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Finance dept of Chandigarh says no to installing firefighting equipment in slum rehabilitation colony

Reasons it can be stolen or not maintained properly; 4,960 families are expected to shift in the colony by December end this year.

Written by Vinod Kumar | Chandigarh |
August 12, 2016 3:38:45 am
 chandigarh, chandigarh news, finance department, fire fighting equipments, slums, chandigarh slums, slum rehabilitation colony, indian express news Rehabilitation colony at Maloya on Thursday.

THE FINANCE Department of Chandigarh Administration has refused to give funds for installation of firefighting equipment in the underconstruction slum rehabilitation colony at Maloya on the ground that it would be stolen or not maintained properly.

Nearly 5,000 families are expected to shift to these flats in December this year. Despite the Chandigarh Housing Board, which is insisting on installation of firefighting system in the colony, a mandatory requirement, the Finance Department has turned down CHB’s demand.

The Chandigarh Administration’s Standing Finance Committee (SFC), headed by Finance Secretary Sarvjit Singh, took the decision in a meeting held on June 29. The estimated cost of providing firefighting equipment to the colony is Rs 7 crore.

CHB has now sought UT Adviser Parimal Rai’s intervention in the matter. The communication sent by CHB chairman Maninder Singh to Parimal.

Rai reads, “In case the mandatory fire safety measures in the flats are not provided, the clearance from the Chief Fire Officer will not be possible and the flats shall have to be handed over to the beneficiaries without clearance from the Chief Fire Officer in respect of fire safety measures.”

Maninder Singh, in his letter, has also cited certain mandatory provisions. “The provision of firefighting system is mandatory as per the National Building Code. The Chief Fire Officer, Chandigarh, vide his letter dated May 1, 2013 had stated, ‘It is intimated that four-storey flats fall under Group A/IV residential apartment [flats] as per NBC. If the height of such buildings is up to 15 metres, the following types of fire-safety measures are to be installed — fire extinguishers and hose reels at each floor, two-way fire brigade connection, terrace water tank with capacity not less than 5,000 litres with pump and sprinkler system [if basement is there]. In view of the above, you are advised to install the above-mentioned mandatory fire-safety measure in the flats and intimate to this office for clearance,’” the letter notes.

However, the committee still turned down CHB’s demand. According to the minutes of the Standing Finance Committee meeting, accessed by Chandigarh Newsline, the committee denied the demand citing reasons such as “this type of firefighting system has not been provided in EWS houses earlier. Moreover, an issue has been raised as to who would maintain it after its installation, besides a second issue of [its being] theft-prone”.

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The construction of 4,960 two-room flats under JNNURM started in June 2014. CHB has set December as the deadline for completion of the scheme and is planning to get it inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Justifying the decision, Sarvjit Singh said, “Firefighting system has not been provided in any other EWS rehabilitation colonies and it is not mandatory as per the laid down norms.”

Shashi Shankar Tiwari, Colonies Cell president of Congress, ridiculed the Chandigarh Administration’s decision calling it “insensitive towards slum-dwellers”.

“For Chandigarh Administration, lives of slum dwellers are not important. Rehabilitation colonies in Punjab and Haryana are already equipped with firefighting equipment. We had also taken up the issue with the authorities concerned in Chandigarh Administration in the past, but all in vain,” Tiwari said.

Now CHB shall be taking up this matter in its board meeting scheduled for August 12.

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