Dear Parties contesting in the Karnataka State Elections,
Have you considered including Fire Safety in your election manifesto for the forthcoming election? If not, we urge you to do so. And here is why…
There has been a spate of fire accidents in our country the past couple of months – be it at a liquor shop in Bengaluru or a hotel in Mumbai, or some other building in another city, town or village.
In fact, as per NCRB 2015 data pertaining to Karnataka:
- 1244 died in fires in 1 year
- Of these, 781 were women and 463 men
- Cooking gas burst fires were the major reason for deaths (338)
- Electrical Short circuits caused 118 deaths
- Over 50% of deaths in commercial establishments in India were from Karnataka
While the cause of these accidents may have been different, what is common is the glaring near-callous disregard to fire safety in our state, inadequate policies and checks and balances that, if in place, could well, prevent such accidents from taking place in the first place.
Most fire accidents are avoidable if certain norms are diligently followed by all stakeholders – builders, residents, office goers, sanctioning authorities… All. In today’s scenario, this would be possible only if people at decision-making levels take up the cause of Fire Safety and pass the necessary legislation which would make Fire Safety measures mandatory.
In this regard, we at Beyond Carlton (www.beyondcarlton.org), India’s only citizen’s initiative on fire safety, request that each and every party contesting in the forthcoming Karnataka State elections include the following points as a part of their election manifestos:
1. Link fire safety standards set in the National Building Code (http://ndrfandcd.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/file/F03.pdf) for granting/sanctioning plans approvals by municipal authorities
2. Review and align existing legislation for granting statutory approvals for residences, businesses, and industries (like the state excise legislations) keeping fire safety as the prime consideration.
3. Take cognizance and take strict action against licensed high-density establishments(like hospitals, malls, educational institutions, etc.) which compromise on fire safety.
4. Introduce fire safety standards for ALL buildings of all heights and not only for those which are over 15 meters high
5. Increase substantially the number of fire safety personnel, sanction better quality fire-fighting equipment, and conduct periodic training programmes for the fire-fighters and first responders. The focus of the Fire Department must shift from fire-fighting to fire prevention.
6. Empower the fire department to be the final authority on licensing/ canceling licenses of buildings that violate prescribed fire safety norms
7. Ensure that Real Estate Regulatory Authority does not accord approvals for new building projects unless the builders include fire safety-related requirements in agreements for sale, sale deeds and construction agreements as a condition for sale to purchasers.
8. Declare ‘Right to Safety’ as an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution and suitably incorporate safety education in the State’s school and college curriculum.
We urge each and every Political Party and all candidates across party lines, to commit to the urgent need for implementation of the above-mentioned points.
A fire knows no religion, no sex, no VIP / common man.
A fire never cares who it burns. You or a dear one could well be its next victim. Let us all work towards preventing that.
We would await and welcome parties who would like to have a discussion with us on any aspect of fire safety.
Let’s make Karnataka fire-safe!
Managing Trustee and President