The Parliament House, one of India’s most protected structures, is not safe against fire. The sprawling heritage structure spread over 12 acres does not have a fire safety certificate for nearly a decade now. The building has seen two fires in less than two weeks, the latest when insulation material next to an air conditioning unit caught fire during its maintenance.
“The fact is that this is an old building and even the wiring may be old, we are checking to make sure that it is safe and whatever requirements are needed to get the fire approval can be obtained,” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, said. In August 2013, the Delhi Fire Service carried out an inspection of the 12-gated complex and recommended corrective measures to the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
Some changes were made – high power hoses, hydrant systems and smoke detectors were installed. The fire department also asked for the installation of sprinklers, modification of emergency exits and rewiring of cables. But none of these are in place, so one of India’s most important buildings is functioning without a mandatory safety clearance. Three years ago, former Speaker Meira Kumar had ordered the shifting of kitchens and cooking from the Parliament building to improve fire safety. A fire service truck has also been permanently stationed inside the complex.