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Private hostels in Vizag sitting on a powder keg

The preliminary probe into the incident revealed that the hostel was running sans the mandatory NOC from the Fire Department.

Published: 12th February 2018 03:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th February 2018 05:24 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

VISAKHAPATNAM: The fire that broke out in a working women’s hostel on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, reducing cash, academic certificates and belongings of inmates to ash, has brought the safety situation at new hostels mushrooming in the city to the fore. The preliminary probe into the incident revealed that the hostel was running sans the mandatory NOC from the Fire Department.   

Being an education hub, Vizag has many institutions and coaching centres for competitive examinations and youth from across the state work in private and governments agencies here, fuelling the demand for hostel accommodations. Cashing in on the demand, many private hostels are mushrooming in the city. Officials say most of the hostels are running without necessary approvals, compromising on inmates’ safety.

In the recent fire accident at Safe Hands Working Women’s Hostel at Asilmetta, as many as 45 inmates had a close shave after a ceiling fan caught fire owing to an electrical short-circuit. “The women’s hostel did not have the basic fire safety equipment. Negligence on the part of the management led to the mishap. We will serve a notice on the owners on Monday,” said Surya Bagh fire safety officer N Gopikrishna.   The private hostels charge exorbitant amounts from inmates, but do not ensure basic amenities or address safety concerns.  

“We have eight rooms with six students living in each. The rooms are very congested, but we are expected to shell out `5,000 a month,” says Rose Mary, a resident of Safe Hands Working Women’s Hostel. As per norms, private managements need to register themselves with the Women and Child Welfare Department before setting up a hostel, however, most owners give the rule a go-by, officials said.

The Women and Child Welfare Department does not even have a proper database of the total number of private hostels in the city.“The department seeks details of the hostel owners, criminal history, the mandatory licences from the departments concerned. But, many hostel owners skip the provisions and set up hostels in apartments or individual buildings,” a senior officer of Women and Child Welfare Department tells TNIE.

He also admits that no regular raids are conducted to bring the erring owners to book, adding that there should be orders from the higher authorities to conduct raids, which never came in the last few years.
A fire department official says that the parents only check the hostel premises for hygiene before admitting their wards, not the safety issues. In case of a fire in a congested building, it becomes difficult to evacuate the inmates as many of them do not have proper entry and exit points.“Many hostels are running without mandatory permissions from the authorities. They do not have CCTVs, even security guards. Poor vigilance has given the hostel owners a free hand,” he points out.

Safety goes for a toss

Many hostels are running without mandatory permissions from authorities. They do not have CCTVs or security guards. “Poor vigilance has given the hostel owners a free hand,” a fire department official pointed out. He admitted no raids were conducted to bring the erring owners to book

Safety goes for a toss

 Many pvt hostels are running sans mandatory approvals
 Mandatory registration of hostel owners given a go-by
 No database on the total private hostels running in Vizag
 Many hostels do not have CCTVs, fire-fighting equipment and security guard
 No regular raids conducted to bring the erring owners to book



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