BY ARPITA SRIVASTAVA | NT
MAPUSA : Despite several fire accidents reported in government buildings in Mapusa, the authorities are yet to install fire safety equipments in government departments. The government office in Mapusa can be taken as the best example where only a handful of them have installed the safety equipments.
Inspections carried out by fire services department have found that most of the buildings in Mapusa lack fire safety equipments putting workers, visitors as well as government records at risk.
As per Fire Services Rules and National Building Code of India, installation of minimum fire safety equipment is mandatory for all buildings.
Around 21 government buildings in Bardez have been shortlisted by the Directorate of Fire and Emergency Department for not having a proper fire and safety system in place. The list of government offices included are the Directorate of Education, Porvorim, Directorate of Technical education, Porvorim, Goa Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Office Porvorim, Deputy Collector and Mamlatdar office Mapusa, PWD office (National Highway section) Electricity Department Mapusa, Civil and Criminal Court and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances Mapusa, Goa Tillari Irrigation Development Corporation with hostel, Mapusa, Department of Weights and Measures Mapusa, Goa Board of secondary higher secondary education, Porvorim
Zonal agriculture office, Duler, Directorate of Transport at KTC bus stand, PWD (roads section), Forest subdivision office Karaswada, Commercial sales tax office Mapusa, Captain of Ports, Betim, Mapusa Residency, Administrator of communidade Mapusa, Fisheries Department, Britona, sub-registrar office Mapusa, Health department buildings namely, primary health center (PHC), Aldona, primary health center Colvale, primary health center Siolim and urban health center Mapusa.
It was found that there were no fire hydrants in some government offices while some had no provision for water pumps. Also, in some government buildings sprinkler systems were found to be non-functional. In some cases, glasses of fire hose cabinets were broken and some equipment was missing.
The government offices are scattered in Mapusa and are mostly located in congested areas. The offices are visited by hundreds of people and hence it is essential that important documents are preserved for future records.
All government departments should have a basic system of fire safety in place which includes first aid, fire fighting extinguisher, hose reel, courtyard hydrant post, underground static water storage tank and manual operated electric fire alarm system, assembly point, signage boards of exit, smoke detectors etc.
When an inspection was made at government offices in the town such as the deputy collector and mamlatdar office Mapusa, Electricity Department Mapusa, Directorate of Transport at KTC bus stand, sub registrar office Mapusa, department of weights and measures Mapusa, PWD (roads section), PWD office (National Highway section), PWD (Water supply), it was found that there was no fire system in place, not even a basic fire safety indicating exit points incase of an emergency.
The government complex at Mapusa which is a ground plus three floors has around 10 government offices which includes, the office of the deputy collector and mamlatdar of Bardez taluka, Block Development office, Civil Supply, Commercial tax office, PWD building section, Electrical Section and office of executive engineer of PWD roads, office of registrar of cooperative society, office of land survey and others have got no provision for a fire safety in the building.
Incase of any fire mishap it can turn into a major disaster especially during peak hours since no basic fire system is in place at the government offices. The lack of proper planning has also led to a number of fire incidents at the Mapusa market too.
It is very evident that the authorities have failed to follow a proper procedure while setting up the fire hydrants in the market too. After the fire hydrants were set up, the PWD and the Mapusa Municipality have hardly checked their functioning. There is neither a water storage tank nor a jockey fire pump linked to the fire hydrants in the Mapusa market. This has resulted in very low pressure of water for the hydrants.
Pundalik Khorjuvekar, deputy collector Bardez said, “ I have written to the PWD building section asking them to setup the required fire safety system in government departments.”
At the sub-registrar’s office which houses important documents relating to birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, property related documents etc there is no fire safety system in place. The office of the sub registrar is situated in Morod which does not have proper access roads and could create more problems in case of an emergency.
Confirming that there is no fire system in his office the Bardez sub registrar Arjun Shetye said “Our main problem is that our building is situated at an isolated place and secondly it is a rented premise, hence installing a fire system is very difficult for us”.
When asked about the preservation of documents and whether all documents are digitalised, Shetye said, “the process of digitalisation was completed but the office does not know where the data is kept.”
The office of the directorate of transport which is situated in a congested place on the first floor of the KTC bus stand, one can see heaps of files kept in a disorderly way crying for attention. The office has got only one entry and exit point.
Gurudas Narvekar, assistant director said “there is no fire extinguisher in the office or any other fire safety system. Since I have taken over a few months back I shall look into the matter and refer the same to my higher ups for further action.”
With regard to the electricity department at Mapusa, the executive engineer C H Rajagopalan said “we have got a fire safety system at all substations to tackle any fire incident. As far as the office is concerned, we do not have a fire system. I shall take this matter with my superiors and do the needful”.
When the Mapusa Fire station was contacted regarding safety of government buildings, the officials informed that the fire department has conducted inspection of all buildings in 2012 and the various departments were asked to submit a compliance report.
“Our office has not received any compliance report from the government offices whether they have implemented our recommendation or not” said that Mapusa fire service in charge Bosco Ferro.
“Since this issue is very important my office has initiated the process of sending reminders to all departments asking them to submit a compliance report” he added.
Surprisingly the new building of the Mapusa police station which is almost completed does not have any facility for a fire hydrant system. As per Fire Services Rules and National Building Code of India, installation of minimum fire safety equipment is mandatory for all buildings.
When contacted the PWD buildings assistant engineer Maniraj Talkar said that there is no fire and safety provision in the new building of the Mapusa police station. He said, the role of the PWD is to only execute the building plans.