Surat building fire: Gujarat moves to enforce fire safety in buildings

Builders given deadline after Surat’s deadly blaze.

Shaken out of apathy by the devastating fire at an illegal structure in Surat that claimed the life of 22 students, the Gujarat government on Sunday asked builders of more than 9,000 properties, including over 1,100 in the diamond city, to equip themselves with fire safety installations within three days or face closure.

“It is a bad wake up call, but we will initiate strict action to ensure this does not happen again anywhere. We are very sad about the fire in Surat,” Gujarat Chief Secretary J.N. Singh told reporters here.

He said notices had been issued to 9,965 properties in Gujarat and as many as 713 teams had been deployed for the purpose.

Mr. Singh said between Saturday and Sunday, at least 50 properties in Surat had been sealed for violations of fire safety norms. As many as 1,123 properties in the city have been issued notices for not adhering to fire safety norms.

The official said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who had immediately rushed to Surat on Friday after the fire tragedy, was “very disturbed and wants strictest action.”

As many as 22 students studying at an arts coaching centre on the covered terrace, which became the fourth floor, of a three-storey building Takshashila Arcade in Surat’s Sarthana area lost their lives in the huge fire on Friday. They were in the age group of 14 to 17 years.

Fourteen students are still under treatment at four hospitals in Surat with three in intensive care units, official sources said.

Mr. Singh said the Surat Municipal Corporation had suspended Deputy Chief Fire Officer S.K. Acharya and Fire Officer Kirti Modh for ignoring fire safety norms on the dome of the fourth floor of the building. The building did not have a no-objection certificate from the Fire Department.

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