What Went Wrong In Delhi’s Children Hospital?

The recent fire tragedies in Delhi’s children hospital and Rajkot’s gaming zone, claiming at least 40 lives have put the spotlight on safety norms in the country and the need for enforcement measures to avoid such disasters. The east Delhi’s children hospital where the fire broke out at saturday night, which claimed lives of seven newborns, was allegedly trading oxygen cylinders, as complained by locals. There is still no confirmation whether the fire erupted due to the cylinder blast but there were complaints of “illegal refilling of cylinders on the first floor of the hospital building, as per a report by Hindustan Times. In Rajkot, the fire at the gaming zone occurred due to an electric short-circuit. The indoor gaming was a steel-fabricated shed around three-storey tall, 50 metres wide and 60 metres long.

What are fire Safety Norms in India?

The rules called National Building Code (NBC) were published by the Bureau of indian Standards (BIS) in 1970 and updated in 2016. The code is meant for all agencies involved in building construction, and provides detailed guidelines regarding the construction requirements, maintenance and fire safety of buildings. Also, the fire services in india fall under the state subject and are listed as a municipal function in the XII Schedule of the Constitution of india under Article 243 (W). Meaning, the state governments are responsible for fire prevention and ensuring safety of lives and properties by implementing measures through the State fire Services Act or building bylaws.

The ‘Model Building Bye Laws 2016’, issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, guide the states and Union Territories to frame their respective building bylaws for fire protection and safety requirements as well. Additionally, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has laid down a few fire safety requirements for public buildings like hospitals that include features such as minimum open safety space, exit mechanisms, dedicated staircases and evacuation drills.

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