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Ludhiana MC begins fire audit of factories, commercial buildings

Ludhiana MC begins fire audit of factories, commercial buildings

For the first time in its history, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has started fire audit in factories and other commercial units.



Tribune News Service

Nikhil Bhardwaj

Ludhiana, June 18

For the first time in its history, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has started fire audit in factories and other commercial units. The development took place after Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney issued the necessary instructions to MC and fire department. The DC had asked the MC to submit fire audit report within 10 days but due to staff shortage, the MC has found the task tedious.

Shortage of manpower hampers efforts

We have audited about 100 units including factories, restaurants so far. There are thousands of units and we also don’t have enough staff for the task, still we will complete the audit. The erring units would first be served notices and then action, including ceiling of factories, will follow. Sandeep Rishi, MC Commissioner

MC Commissioner Sandeep Rishi told Tribune here on Tuesday that the fire audit had already been started. “We have audited about 100 units including factories, restaurants so far. There are thousands of units in the industrial hub and we also don’t have enough staff for the task, still we will complete the audit as soon as possible. The erring units would first be served notices and then action, including ceiling of factories, will follow if the owners do not conform to the norms,” added Rishi.

It is pertinent to mention here that even after so many years, the civic body and fire department have failed to carry out fire audit in the industrial and commercial buildings. This is despite the fact that a detailed fire audit was announced in 2017 after a building collapsed at Suffian chowk. The authorities only talked about carrying out checking in the buildings to ensure fire safety arrangements.

The fire and building collapse incident in Amarsons Polymers had happened on November 20, 2017 killing 16 people including nine firefighters. The incident had forced the authorities to announce an audit of all buildings in the city, especially the commercial and industrial ones, as it had come to light that highly flammable chemicals were stored inside the unit without any permission in this incident.

There are around 4.25 lakh properties in the city according to the MC and of these at least two lakh properties come under commercial and industrial categories. The officials, however, blamed the shortage of manpower for not being able to conduct any audit and also claimed that it is the duty of the residents to get the fire NOCs.

Even now, whenever there is any fire incident in the city, it invariably comes to light that hardly any fire safety arrangements have been made by the owners and most of the time, only fire extinguishers are found. There are areas where industrial units work from households and they are in danger zone, still there is no awareness.

Punjab Fire and Emergency Service Act, still awaited

Fire officials are waiting eagerly for the implementation of Punjab Fire and Emergency Service Act 2022 a draft of which is already ready and waiting for the final nod before implementation. Fire officials claimed that the Act will make third party audit mandatory for the owners of buildings along with some more powers to the fire brigade, including checking the premises after serving notice three hours prior to it.

Only 5,700 NOCs issued in five years

The Fire Department of Ludhiana has issued about 5,700 fire NOCs in the past five years. The number of NOCs issued is far less than the available commercial establishments in the industrial hub. Fire NOCs issued in 2023 till December 26 were 1,896.

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