HC slams Gujarat govt, civic bodies over non-compliance of orders on fire safety

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Ahmedabad, May 25 (PTI) The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the state government and municipal corporations for non-compliance with its past orders related to fire safety in hospitals, schools and other buildings, and said it was serious about fixing responsibility of officers on the issue.

A division bench of Justices Bela Trivedi and Bhargav D Karia said it appears that the authorities have either not complied or partially complied with its earlier directions as many buildings, including hospitals, are still running without valid fire safety no-objection certificates (NOCs).

The court was hearing a PIL moved by advocate Amit Panchal on a spate of fire incidents in hospitals in Gujarat in the recent past. These included COVID-19 hospitals where several patients lost their lives. One such tragedy took place early this month at a hospital in Bharuch in south Gujarat where 16 COVID-19 patients and two nurses were killed in a devastating blaze.

Observing that there are still many buildings without any BU (building use) permissions and fire safety NOCs, the court said, 'We are very much serious about fixing the responsibility of the officers. This has been going on for years. When specific directions were given to corporations, nagarpalikas (municipalities), everybody to see to it all the provisions are strictly complied with, then why no action is being taken?' 'When the matter comes before the court, it passes order, gives directions. Then no action, again there is a lull period, and nothing happens. What happens to the court's directions given from time to time? Even the Supreme Court has come down very heavily on this issue. Number of judgments. And no action was taken. So, we will now have to fix the responsibility on the officers,' the bench further said.

The court had earlier directed the government and local civic bodies to ensure that fire safety measures are implemented in all buildings in Gujarat, especially in hospitals, schools and industrial units, and asked them to strictly follow various provisions related to the matter.

It had also impressed upon the state government to adopt the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, to ensure minimum standards to all establishments providing healthcare services.

The HC asked the state government and municipal corporations 'to prepare a chart/table giving details about the compliance, non-compliance and partial compliance of the directions issued by it on December 15, 2020 and February 26, 2021.

The court said they may also file additional affidavits if they so desired, and kept the matter for further hearing on June 1. PTI KA PD RSY RSY

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