Fire still a threat in Russell Market

Bangalore City

Lack of fire safety equipment prevents Russell Market from getting an NOC from the fire department.

By Ishika Dangayach

The Russell Market has not received a Non-Objectional certificate from the fire department even after a recent judgment by the Karnataka High Court.

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palikke (BBMP) Officer Mr. Venkesh N. said, “We will soon install the fire safety equipment in the market and will receive the NOC from the fire department. Apart from that, we are trying to clear the market entrance area so that the fire brigade can enter the market.”

In April this year, the Karnataka High court directed the BBMP to clear the encroachment and comply with fire safety measures in the Russell Market.

Mr. Javid Sait,Russell Market Association Head, said, “There are no fire safety measures installed in the market. A few years ago, a massive fire broke out in the market causing serious damage;  around 170  shops caught fire. The BBMP did not take any preventive measures even after this accident.”

The Karnataka Fire Service Act, 1964 states that every public place which includes markets should have compulsory fire safety equipment and regular inspection done by the Fire and Emergency department.

Mr. Shabaaz Ali, a market regular, said, “I have been visiting this market for the last nine years but I haven’t seen any fire extinguishers, sand buckets, properly marked emergency exits or any other fire safety measures put in place in the market.” The redevelopment of the Russell market will be taken up under the smart city project and the tenders for it will be out soon.

BBMP official, Mr. Venkesh N. said, “One of the major parts of the redevelopment plan is to provide all the required fire safety equipment, as per the fire and emergency service, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers etc.”

The Karnataka Fire and Emergency Department certificate states that an area of six square meters should be allocated around the building for emergency services.

Mr. Anzar, market vendor, said, “No regular inspection is conducted by any government officials to ensure whether the safety measures are put in place. Also, there is not enough space at the market entrance for the Fire Brigade to pass in case of an accident.”

Mr. Suresh Kumar, an urban planner at SV Consultants, said, “Fire safety measures in areas like the Russell Market are necessary because they are densely populated areas. The government must come up with ways of installing safeguards to prevent fires and to ensure the safety of the people in the market complex..”

The Karnataka High Court said that if the civic bodies do not fix these lapses in implementing fire safety measures in the market, it would think of closing the market.

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