Hotels sans fire safety measures

Whatever the reasons for having been lukewarm and indifferent towards ensuring reasonably adequate safety measures being taken in hotels in Jammu and Kashmir , the fact of the matter is that it is usually only when a tragedy like out breaking of a blaze strikes a public place , the administration wakes up only to revert again to the inertial mode after a few days. We may not , at the outset , hold the owners or the managing bodies of such public places wholly responsible for making foolproof arrangements to prevent occurrence of a fire or when one breaks out , dousing it instantly with the installed devices and trained staff for handling such unfortunate incident but the administration which by the very name , must always have watchful eyes and responsive ears to ensure that rules on official books including on statutory ones were strictly enforced. Since compromising with safety standards do nothing more than wreaking irreversible havoc in the shape of precious lives getting perished in addition to destruction of the properties, a proper approach towards the issue is needed. Artik Hotel in KarolBagh New Delhi witnessed devastating fire in February this year claiming more than 17 lives within no time. Similarly, a devastating fire broke out in a resort in Gulmarg Kashmir early last month. The administration must learn lessons from such incidents.
While it is a matter of some sort of satisfaction that some prominent hotels in Jammu and Kashmir were found generally adhering to safety norms and possessed reasonable measures to prevent a fire , on the other hand , it is really a travesty that most of the hotels , lodges , guest houses etc across the Union Territory were found faltering in and brazenly violating the safety norms as a result of an audit conducted on the instructions of the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. While for operating of a hotel , a lodge or a guest house , compliance of safety and security measures by the owners is a pre-condition of granting a licence or a permission from the designated competent authority in the administration, at the same time there were no inspections conducted to verify the same .
Fire and electricity audits of all public places especially where people tend to stay overnight, should be there on regular basis and not only after some incident takes place and then again forgetting the same. The culture of such audits in Jammu and Kashmir is in utter scantiness though appearing very much on rule books . That corruption was responsible to a large extent in allowing blatant compromises in respect of adhering to fire safety measures and prevention thereof cannot be at all ruled out. Also, it can be deduced that due attention towards such an important requirement by the administration is either considered not being one among priorities or just thought a mere formality deemed to have been done without moving out to physically verify the same . Had it been not so, we would have been reporting about those ones who defaulted and were duly penalised as a result of surprise audits conducted. Not only fire extinguishers and other necessary devices duly kept ready and prim for dealing with any eventuality was absolutely necessary but most of the staff members working in such public places must be given elementary training in how to deal with a situation like out breaking of a fire and prevent it from spreading while evacuating people from the affected spots.
Besides, there are various items needed in such public places like cooking gas, cooking oils and other inflammable substances which are mandated to be stored and managed very diligently and there must be proper storage facilities which should be at a secured place in the premises concerned and on that count too most of the hotels and other public places are not following the requisite guidelines. Wherever , gross violations of norms and guidelines have been observed, due rectification process should be undertaken forthwith and such audits must frequently be conducted and violators duly penalised.