Days after the Surat tragedy, fire department officials started a crackdown on coaching centres in Noida’s sectors 18 and 39 and pockets of Greater Noida. “We have sent notices to more than 50 coaching centres, seeking a response on fire safety apparatus. They are bound to comply with provisions of the National Building Code. The places will be sealed if they are found defaulting,” said A K Singh, Chief Fire Officer (Gautam Budh Nagar).
Buildings have to adhere to the Noida Authority’s Building Regulations 2010, which states that any construction higher than 15 metres and having more than 500 sq metres ground coverage requires a fire certification.
In Noida’s Sector 18 Atta Market, coaching centres take up space in decades-old buildings. While the management maintains they are equipped for a fire, students remain apprehensive. “Many coaching centres have created partitions to hold more classes. There is one staircase in the front and a very narrow emergency exit. If many people are evacuated together, there could be a stampede,” said a student preparing for bank exams in one such building.
A branch of a popular medical and engineering coaching centre claimed it recently held a series of meetings with fire officials and discussed the need for sprinklers, extinguishers and alarm systems.
Buildings in Noida typically have to go through two steps of fire certification. “The first stage is during plan approval and the second stage after project completion. At the second stage, the Chief Fire Officer examines whether building bylaws have been followed,” said S C Gaur, chief architect and urban town planner of the Noida Authority.