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Ludhiana

Posted at: May 26, 2019, 8:03 AM; last updated: May 26, 2019, 8:03 AM (IST)

Tragedy looms over coaching centres

No fire arrangements, narrow stairs, locked emergency exit make them vulnerable

What officials say

  • Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Bhupinder Singh said: “We will talk to the authorities regarding buildings housing coaching centres. We will take steps to check violations as per their instructions.”
  • ATP (Headquarters) SS Bindra said they would carry out a survey of the buildings housing coaching centres. If violations are found, necessary action would be taken, he said.
  • Mayor Balkar Singh Sandhu said they would ensure strict implementation of the fire safety norms in the buildings. “We will purchase fire safety kits and other equipment required for firefighters soon,” he said.
Tragedy looms over coaching centres
Coaching centres at Model Town in Ludhiana. Photo: Ashwani Dhiman

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25

Learning no lessons from the past, the Captain government seems to be waiting for a Surat-like fire incident to happen in the city where a large number of coaching institutes are running without fire safety arrangements. 

No emergency exit and narrow staircases leading to classrooms located in many buildings at Model Town, Kitchlu Nagar and other areas depict a sorry state of affairs. There are no fire hydrants in these markets that are visited by a large number of students daily. 

The windows of many buildings have been permanently closed with toughened glass. If a building does have an emergency exit at the back, the door remains closed.

At least 20 persons, mostly students, were killed in a massive fire which broke out in a four-storey building housing a coaching centre in Surat on Friday. In the absence of an emergency exit, many persons jumped from windows. 

Many city-based activists have warned that any fire incident here can also lead to a major tragedy if preventive measures are not taken timely.

General secretary of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Amarjit Singh Tikka said the district administration should get fire safety arrangements inspected at the coaching centres in Model Town, Rarewal market and other areas. “Many restaurant buildings also house coaching centres. The coaching centres running without fire safety arrangement should be shut down,” he said.

A student who takes coaching at the Model Town market said: “I take English coaching. At one time, around 30 students are present in the classroom. Even though I pay Rs 9,000 per month as fee, there are no fire-safety arrangements in the building. Moreover, the staircase that leads to our classroom on the top floor is quite narrow.”

Ill-equipped fire brigade

Though many high-rise buildings have come up in the city in the past several years, the local fire brigade is ill-equipped to fight fires in such buildings. The firefighters, in the absence of proper gear and hydraulic ladders often face a lot of problems in dousing flames in multi-storey buildings. 

Earlier, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had assured that the necessary fire equipment would be provided to the firefighters. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had announced that fire safety suits would be provided to the firemen. But both of them have failed to keep their promises.

Plastic factory fire report yet to be made public

As many as 16 persons, including nine firefighters, had lost their lives when a plastic-manufacturing factory collapsed after a massive fire in 2017 in Ludhiana. The inquiry into the fire incident has not been made public to date. Following the incident, the MC authorities had announced that it would get a fire audit of buildings done, but it failed to cover the entire city. 

Questions over the ‘role’ of officials’ concerned

Questions are also raised over the role of authorities concerned as to how multi-storey buildings were occupied without obtaining fire-safety and completion certificates. “The Fire Department is ill-equipped despite collection of fire cess from the residents of Ludhiana. No hydraulic ladder, nets and safety gear have been purchased by the department. Many buildings don’t have fire safety arrangements. Students are risking their lives daily taking coaching in these buildings. The Surat tragedy is going to haunt them and their parents all the time,” said Kapil Arora of Council of Engineers, an NGO.

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