Fire breaks out at the Parliament building in Delhi
Fire broke out at the AC plant room near the visitor's gate of the Parliament on March 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. leading to smoke and flames around the building. Many fire tenders had to been pressed into service and the flame were doused without any loss of life. What surprised that people was the fact that the Parliament had not received a fire safety certificate for around 10 years. The last inspection of the parliament building took place in 2013, and before that the inspection was done in 2013. In an order dated November 26, 2014, the CIC had observed that the fire department should have taken sufficient initiative to enforce all safety guidelines in Parliament and Supreme Court buildings. In the case of Shri Rohit Sabharwal v. Delhi Fire Service in File No.CIC/SA/A/2014/000083, the observations of CIC are pertinent:-
10. The Commission observes that this is a grave matter of life of hundreds of Constitutional office holders, hence the information sought is matter relating to life which should have been answered within 48 hours. The Commission feels that the respondent authority should have taken sufficient initiative to enforce all safety guidelines in Parliament and Supreme Court buildings by appraising the authorities in Legislature and Judiciary about the need of immediate action, instead of waiting nearly for a decade, perhaps with the hesitation not to cause embarrassment to higher authorities. 11. Section 27 of Delhi Fire Services Act 2007 gives power to Director or any officer to remove encroachments or objects or goods likely to cause a risk of fire or any obstruction to fire fighting. Where a director considers such encroachments or objects or goods to be an imminent cause of risk of fire or obstruction to fire fighting, he may direct the owner or the occupier or erector of such premises or building to remove the encroachments or objects or goods forthwith and report the matter to the SubDivisional Magistrate accordingly. This section (3) gives power to SDM to seize, detain or remove the encroachments. He can even sell them in public auction. 12. Under Section 29 owners of certain classes of building should appoint fire safety officer who shall ensure the compliance of all fire prevention and fire safety measures and effective operation thereof as provided in this Act. For example a cinema house where seating capacity of more than 1000 persons, a building with builtup area more than 10000 sq mts etc should have a fire safety officer. Section 31 empowers the Director to impose penalty in default of nonappointment of fire Safety Officer with a sum not less than ten rupees per square meter of area owned or occupied. Section 41 imposes liability of property owner to pay compensation to any other person suffering damage. Section 49 provides for imposing penalty for failure to take precautions which include three months imprisonment and fine. 13. This commission has ordered recently: "Information regarding fire safety norms is liferelated information. DFS has committed a grave breach of RTI by exhibiting an adamant attitude and denying information about inspection records of fire safety norms in Delhi. Their attitude fortifies apprehensions of corruption in selectively applying the fire norms and issuance of no objection certificate and using or not using the powers of disconnecting water and power to the buildings which did not comply with the norms". (http://rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_DS_A_2013_001268SA_M_138864.pdf) 14. It may be recalled that there was a major fire accident in Andhra Pradesh High Court building on 31st August 2009 in Hyderabad. The Hindu reported: Fire broke out in the Andhra Pradesh High Court building, a heritage structure, destroying the chambers of five judges, a library housing valuable books and a miniconference hall in the early hours of Monday. More than 100 firemen had to sweat it out for over three hours using 15 fire tenders to douse the flames that began around 4.30 a.m. Though the blaze was put out by 7 a.m., smoke continued to billow out till evening prompting Fire Service officials to continue firefighting operations and deploy teams of firemen at the spot to face any eventuality. (http://www.thehindu.com/todayspaper/fireinhighcourtdestroysj...) The Hindu commented: “Waiting to happen: Firemen spraying water to put out the fire in the High Court building”. Having a fire fighting vehicle ready for all 24 hours is fine, but they can come to rescue only after fire accident happened. The Commission is concerned with the public interest in the information request of appellant regarding preventive measures and implementation firesafety norms in Supreme Court and Parliament Buildings. Why not the public authorities learn from AP High Court fire accident? 5. The Commission directs the respondent public authority, especially the head of the department, to take a serious note of firesafety lapses in the buildings housing Supreme Court and Parliament and direct to appraise the authorities in Legislature and Judiciary about necessity and importance of taking the measures recommended by them. The Commission also directs the Respondent Authority to inform the appellant and the Commission why they have not performed their duties as prescribed under The Delhi Fire Services Act, 2007. The Commission also recommends Respondent Authority, the CPIO of Supreme Court of India and Parliament of India to inform the appellant and the Commission as to what measures they have initiated to comply with the safety standards/ safety recommendations against fire, within one month from the date of receipt of this order. The Commission also directs the CPIO of Supreme Court of India and Parliament of India to inform the appellant and the Commission whether they have Fire Safety Officer appointed in their respective buildings or not, if not why not and when they would appoint within 21 days from the date of receipt of this order. 16. The Commission, under Section 25(5), recommends to the respondent authority to periodically review the compliance of safety norms of such public buildings and upload the compliance related information on their official website.
In another case, the CIC had observed that it seems the Fire Department has not learnt anything from the Uphaar Tragedy. The CIC held that “Information regarding fire safety norms is life related information……It is the basic and avowed purpose of the entire department of Fire and Fire Services to see that no building faces the risk of the fire”. Read more at: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/information-about-fire-safety-was-sought-cic-urgen#.VQ90hPyUe1U