Chandigarh: Chief fire officer raises red flag, says safety measures ignored at crafts mela

Writes to director, cultural affairs; department finds violations during inspection. Fire safety norms have not been followed despite prior intimation by the office of chief fire officer to comply with all 34 instructions as specified.

Written by Hina Rohatki | Chandigarh | Updated: November 11, 2018 4:43:40 am
Gas cylinders being used at stalls without fire safety equipment during the mela at Kalagram Saturday. (Express photo by Sahil Walia)

FOR AN event which sees hundreds of visitors, the UT Administration ignored fire safety norms and went ahead to hold Chandigarh National Crafts Mela.

A letter in this regard has been shot off by the chief fire officer concerned to the director, cultural affairs, the department organising the event which states that the fire safety norms have not been followed for the event and “department concerned /organizer would be fully responsible for any kind of loss of life and property if any untoward incident takes place due to non-compliance of the fire safety norms”. The fire department conducted an inspection on Friday evening.

The event is being held at Kalagram and kicked off on November 9. It will go on till November 18. Around 170 different stalls displaying different art or food items have been put up.

Fire safety norms have not been followed despite prior intimation by the office of chief fire officer to comply with all 34 instructions as specified.

“In this connection it is intimated that office had issued instructions vide a letter on November 2 with regard to follow fire safety measures and arrangements at the said mela and send a compliance report at least two days prior to the start of the said mela for the physical verification of the same, but during inspection conducted by this office on November 9, it was found that fire safety norms have not been complied by the organizer /department concerned,” the letter stated.

According to the instructions sent in by the fire department on November 2, it was clearly specified that no combustible material like wood shavings, straw, flammables, explosive chemical and similar other materials should be permitted to be stored in the vicinity or inside the pandals/ structures. The kitchen area for cooking snacks or food should also be totally segregated from the main temporary structure and preferably be made of GI sheets or non-combustible material. It was also said that open flames, fireworks or inflammable gases should not be used during the function within the pandal.

However, it was found that there was no separate area and the food items were being cooked among other stalls with gas cylinders kept out in the open.

The letter specified that “during the inspection it was found that all surrounding areas of the said mela were totally obstructed with uneven parking of vehicles all over and genset was also not found fenced and vehicles were parked adjoining to it, which could lead to an untoward incident”.

Instructions had stated that gen-set installed at the site has to be at a safe distance from the structure or pandal and be properly fenced.

“You are again requested that the department concerned or organizer may be issued directions to follow the fire safety point of view as mentioned above at the said mela and submit the compliance report as early as possible in the said office and also get surrounding area vacated as mentioned above with the help of Chandigarh Police to avoid any untoward incident in larger public interest,” the letter said.

Director (cultural affairs) Jitender Yadav did not respond to phone calls and messages.

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