For the first time in Telangana or erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, a builder has been convicted of ignoring fire safety norms in a residential apartment in the city.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Secunderabad Y. Govinda Reddy on Tuesday sentenced E. Gurunath Reddy, 44, to three months’ simple imprisonment, payment of a fine of Rs.25,000 and, in default, an additional prison term of a week.
The accused had built Foot Man’s Residency at Vijaypuri Colony (Tarnaka) with a stilt parking, five floors and an illegal penthouse taking the height of the building to 21.5 metres but without obtaining no-objection certificate from the fire services department. The National Building Code stipulates that any residential apartment above 18 metres of height (more than five floors) has to provide for fire safety, yet the builder had failed to do so.
Fire services personnel had, almost a decade ago, inspected the premises and found it lacking fire safety provisions including extra staircase for escape, illuminated exit routes etc. It also did not have the required setbacks all round, standby generator, hydrants, fire sprinkler or alarm system, underground water storage tanks and so on.
Despite serving notices and reminding him of the penal provisions of the Fire Services Act, the accused had failed to rectify deficiencies. The case was initially followed by Assistant District Fire Officer M. Rajendra Prasad and later by DFO Y. Prabhakar Reddy till the conviction.
“Many of those violating fire safety norms should know that it is a crime and a punishable offence under the Fire Services Act. This judgment sends a signal to all builders that they cannot wash their hands of the violations,” said Telangana State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department DG Rajiv Ratan.
Residential welfare associations too were liable to be prosecuted if they ignored notices issued by the department because the matter concerned public safety, he said.more..