HYDERABAD: With hundreds of private godowns housing highly inflammable industrial goods and electronic gadgets, the Secunderabad Cantonment area, which is spread over 42 sq km, is virtually sitting on a tinderbox. The reason is quite simple. None of these warehouses has a fire compliance or no-objection certificate. In fact, the real issue is that there simply does not exist any authority in the Cantonment Board to ensure fire compliance for these warehouses. The SCB, which has not had an enforcement wing till date, grants permission to warehouses without checking fire safety compliance.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has a fire safety wing which inspects and grants NOC to establishments including schools, colleges and commercial ventures of a certain height, beyond which it is the jurisdiction of the state disaster response and fire services department.
According to an official in the engineering department of SCB, they don’t have a separate fire safety wing on account of staff shortage. On top of that, the godown building is two decades old and the shortage of space prevents them from housing a water storage inside, an official said. The nearly hundred private godowns, most of them located in Rasoolpura and Bowenpally, have huge stocks of electronic gadgets, paints, furniture and oil goods.
The lack of fire-preventing infrastructure poses as a major threat to lakhs of residents in the slums of Rasoolpura Ward 2. SCB vice-president J Rama Krishna said, “The board has no funds to maintain a separate wing for checking safety measures. We have been requesting the defence ministry to release funds for developmental works. However, a decision will be taken on the matter and a resolution on fire safety passed at the next meeting of the board.”
Earlier, elected members had identified illegal godowns within SCB limits. Rama Krishna said, “We will inspect all godowns, issue notices asking them to install fire safety apparatus in the godowns. In case of non-compliance, they will be heavily fined.” When contacted, Srinivas Reddy, the Secunderabad station fire officer, said, “We inspect and check the all godowns in the Cantonment area but do not have the authority to issue No Objection Certificate. If a fire breaks out in the Cantonment area, we will rush fire tenders to the spot. We will hold a meeting with SCB officials and take a decision,” he added.