Fire safety: 325 cases, but only 8 penalties!

That several buildings in Hyderabad city lack even the most basic fire safety norms is a known fact. But one of the factors contributing to the existing situation is the lax attitude of the authorities in ensuring that violators are penalized. According to records with the Telangana State Fire and Disaster Response Services, which time and again services notices on property owners who do not comply with fire safety norms, as many as 325 cases were filed against such violators in the Hyderabad district alone last year. However, shockingly, only in eight cases were the violators actually penalized!

“We do have stringent norms in place and we conduct the required inspections. But when it comes to legally prosecuting the non-compliant building owners, there is a shortfall. For people to be cautious, there needs to be serious punishment and imposition of heavy fines. But such is not the case,” said P Venkata Ramana, additional director, fire prevention wing, GHMC. K Krishna Mohan, additional public prosecutor, state fire and disaster response services, said t they have been pushing the state government for amendments in the Fire Safety Act. “Some of the s amendments would be to increase the minimum penalty to Rs 5 lakh along with a three-year imprisonment term,” he said.

The last time the department filed such a request was July 17 last year. According to sources, the government kept the request in abeyance. “Only when the populace is aware of the norms, would there be a change in their behaviour,” said the public prosecutor.