Surat aftermath: Fire dept seeks number of students enrolled in coaching centres

Two days after a fire at a coaching institute in Gujarat’s Surat claimed 22 lives, the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) has asked coaching institute owners across the city to provide latest buildings plans and made it mandatory to mention the number of students enrolled in each centre.

The fire department, along with the municipalities, will inspect over 5,000 coaching institutes in the city. Along with reviewing the permission, the officials will assess the “assembling capacity” of the buildings.

“In several of the private coaching centres, hundreds of students are admitted. The classrooms and the coaching centre buildings are rarely equipped to safely manage the crowds in case of fire accidents,” said a senior fire official.

For instance, in East Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar several coaching institutes are lined one after another along the main road whose exits generally open into narrow bylanes. Although at least 60 students attend these classes in a single batch, most buildings do not have an alternative exit point for evacuation in case of fire, the official said.

“One batch has 60 students but when the exams are close, we conduct joint sessions for batches. Close to 100 students attend our test sessions at a time,” said a caretaker of a coaching centre.

Similar scenes can be seen around North Delhi’s Pitampura and South Delhi’s Munirka.

Chief fire officer Atul Garg said inspection of buildings and their permits have already begun. “We are conducting inspections and any building owner found ignoring the safety norms will face action,” he said. Garg also said that inspection reports will be sent to municipalities to take action against erring owners.

Senior officials of the building department of East Delhi Municipal Corporation said that many owners of these centres have not registered their buildings as an ‘assembly building’, to excuse themselves of the routine inspections. “We will conduct surprise inspections. The problem is that many do not seek permissions and we are not the agency responsible to grant fire clearances,” a senior EDMC official said.

First Published:
May 27, 2019 04:04 IST

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