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Still Fire safety regulations draft not finalized in Gujarat

The state government prepared a draft of the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Regulations, 2021, to eliminate certain discrepancies in the provisions of the National Building Code (NBC) and the General Development Control Regulations (GDCR).

The deaths of a security guard and his wife in Naranpura’s Modi Eyecare Hospital on the eve of the New Year has once again raised questions on the implementation of the Fire Safety Act in the state.

The state government prepared a draft of the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Regulations, 2021, to eliminate certain discrepancies in the provisions of the National Building Code (NBC) and the General Development Control Regulations (GDCR).

The state government issued notices inviting objections and suggestions with regard to the regulations on three occasions, but the draft has still not been finalized even after having completed the procedure.

The government has been pushed to legislate the Fire Safety Act and then to enforce it properly from time to time by the Gujarat high court. After the fire accident at Shrey Hospital during the Covid pandemic, which killed eight patients, the HC in December 2020 laid down detailed guidelines for hospitals and clinics on the adoption of fire safety measures, including ventilation systems. The state authorities are often castigated by the HC over the poor implementation of the law.

On December 10, 2021, the state government issued a public notice seeking objections to the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Regulations. The draft suggests stringent measures as precautions, such as installing fire equipment and creating two staircases in all buildings which are more than 15 metres high. The draft prohibits any construction in the margin area, whereas earlier, the margin area could have a ramp, an electricity sub-station, or a cabin. The margin area around the building must give access to fire tenders.

The builders’ lobby has raised some objections to the regulations, the main objection being against the suggestion of two staircases. The builders insist that the two-staircase provision should be in accordance with the provisions mentioned in the CGDCR.

According to NBC Part-IV, buildings should provide margin space, staircases, ramps, and other such facilities according to their heights, but the builders have requested to be allowed to follow the GDCR to regulate these requirements. Besides, the front glass façade is also now not preferred in buildings with hospitals in them. The HC has called for regulations in this regard.

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