Fire doused, but no one to bell the cat

Departments busy pointing fingers at each other over trade licence given to operate bars in such congested buildings.

Published: 11th January 2018 01:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2018 09:17 AM   |  A+A-

Excise officials take stock of the situation at Kailash Bar at Kalasipalya on Wednesday | Vinod Kumar T

Express News Service

BENGALURU: While five people died in a dingy bar in the congested Kalasipalya area in the wee hours of Monday, a closer look would reveal how lack of coordination among various departments is to blame for incidents like these.

While all and sundry are flouting safety norms as well as building laws, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the fire and emergency services and the excise department are busy pointing fingers at each other, with no established process evolving about whose clearances are required first to provide the trade licence to operate bars in such congested buildings.

The excise department, urban local body (BBMP), electricity (Bescom), and fire service department issue no-objection certificates and various licenses to run a bar. Since it requires multi-department involvement, monitoring is a huge challenge -- a challenge that turns into a mutual blame game to keep out of the line of fire when one actually breaks out to claim lives.

According to Director General of Police (Fire and Emergency Service), MN Reddi, they are recommending to the BBMP to make changes in their policy of issuing trade licenses to make a NOC from the fire department a pre-requisite for a trade licence from the BBMP. “Compliance with fire safety guidelines should be a must for commercial establishments before obtaining trading licenses,’’ he has stated.

BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, on the other hand, said that under Karnataka Municipal Corporation (KMC) Act, BBMP is authorised to issue trade licence for commercial activities.

“In case of liquor shops or bars, they have to get excise license before applying for a trade licence. It is excised department which has to ensure safety norms. We will give trade license only after their clearance,’’ he said.

On fire safety monitoring, the commissioner said they did not have expertise in dealing with this.
According to State Excise Department norms, a CL-9 licence is issued to run Bar and Restaurants. It is restricted to permit one CL-9 for 20 lakh population. In Bengaluru, as on today, there are 1,375 bar and restaurants.

“BBMP while issuing trade licence has to ensure safety norms, including fire safety. We will issue the licence based on the trade license issued by them. It is their responsibility to check fire safety,’’ Manjunath Naik, Excise Department Commissioner said.

Who Gives What?
Excise Department
CL-9:- Refreshment Room (Bar) Licence:- A licence under this clause, for refreshment room (bar) for sale of Indian liquor combined with the supply of meals or eatables shall be applied and obtained in Form CL-9 from the Deputy Commissioner.
Under Karnataka Muncipal Corporation Act, BBMP issues trade license for commercial establishments
Fire department now wants BBMP to change its trade licence issuing policy to make fire NOC a prerequisite for such trade licence for bars.

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