Notices issued after completion of audit on LG’s directives
*F&ES projects recruitment of addl fire fighting equipment
JAMMU, Dec 8: Non-adherence to the fire safety measures was noticed in large number of hotels and guest houses across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir during the audit conducted on the instructions of Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu and administration has issued notices for taking corrective measures in a time bound manner.
Following devastating fire in a famous hotel in ski resort of Gulmarg on November 2, 2019, the Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir issued instructions to the administration for conduct of fire safety audit of all the hotels and guest houses.
Accordingly, on November 4, 2019, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, while chairing a meeting of Principal Secretary, Home Department, Director General of Fire and Emergency Services, Secretary Department of Disaster Management, Directors of Tourism Department and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, issued formal directions for conduct of fire safety audit of all the hotels and guest houses across the Union Territory.
Acting on the directions, the divisional administration of Kashmir and Jammu constituted teams of officers from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Revenue, Tourism, Power and Tourism Development Authorities and they started fire safety audit of all the hotels and guest houses in their respective jurisdictions.
As per the reports submitted by these teams to the Divisional Commissioners after detailed exercise, non-adherence to the fire safety measures has been noticed in large number of hotels and guest houses, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “as far as big hotels in Jammu as well as Kashmir are concerned, adequate measures have been taken to prevent fire incidents and even necessary equipment have also been installed”.
“However, deficiencies were noticed in large number of medium and small hotels and guest houses in both the divisions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir”, they informed, adding “in many hotels of these categories not only shortcomings in respect of fire safety measures and equipment, even storage facilities for inflammable substances were found grossly inadequate”.
They further said, “in some hotels and guest houses inflammable substances were found stored in close vicinity of electricity system, which is matter of serious concern”, adding “in other hotels of medium and small categories the fire fighting equipment were found inoperable. It also came to the fore during the fire safety audit that staff particularly of guest houses was not adequately and properly trained in dealing with the fire incidents”.
Based on the findings of the audit, the administration has issued notices to all those hotels and guest houses which were found deficient in fire safety measures. “Through these notices the management/owners of the hotels and guest houses have been directed to take necessary corrective measures in the shortest possible time and file compliance report”, sources further informed.
“The administration will again assess the compliance to the fire safety norms in respect of such hotels and guest houses and strict action will be taken against those who will fail to put in place appropriate safety and control measures”, they said while disclosing that Government has worked out a multipronged strategy aimed at fire risk assessment, identifying fire hazards, determining fire safety and control measures and having in place evacuation plan/procedures in hotels to tackle any emergent situation/crisis.
Though there was no response from the Director Tourism Jammu and Director Tourism Kashmir despite repeated calls yet the Divisional Commissioners confirmed that steps have been initiated to ensure compliance to the fire safety measures by all the hotels and guest houses across the Union Territory especially after the audit conducted on the directions of the Lieutenant Governor.
Meanwhile, Fire and Emergency Services Department has projected the requirement of additional fire fighting equipment to strengthen the fire stations located in tourist destinations of Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Srinagar in Kashmir valley and Patnitop, Bhaderwah and Reasi in Jammu division to the Home Department for early procurement out of State Disaster Response Fund.
“Home Department should complete all the formalities for release of funds so that requirement of the Fire and Emergency Services Department is met with as early as possible”, sources stressed.