Surat fire: In two days, over 9,000 buildings found unsafe in Gujarat

Surat fire: In two days, over 9,000 buildings found unsafe in Gujarat

AS MANY as 9,395 buildings across Gujarat, including schools, coaching centres, malls, restaurants and hotels, were found lacking in fire safety regulations during a mass inspection that was launched two days ago following the blaze that killed 22 children in Surat, according to the state chief secretary.

Gujarat Chief Secretary Jagdip Narayan Singh said officials in 162 municipalities across the state have inspected 9,962 buildings and found that 9,395 of them lacked fire-safety features.

“A total of 713 teams comprising 2,055 officials have been carrying out inspections across Gujarat … Show cause notices have been sent to the owners of these buildings, giving them three days to take all necessary steps or face closure of their property,” said Singh.

On Friday, 22 students were killed in Surat after a massive fire engulfed a three-storey commercial complex in which their coaching centre was located. “In Surat, one person has been arrested and efforts are on to track the remaining absconding accused. Two officials of the Fire Department have been suspended and we are probing the role of other officials as well,” said Singh

“A total of 80 teams with 320 officials have been inspecting buildings and complexes in the city and have sent show cause notices to 1,123 coaching centres in Surat in the past two days. Five coaching centres were being run in the basement of various complexes and they have been shut,” he said.

Singh said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has asked all officials to shut down coaching centres that are being run on the terrace of complexes, under dome-shaped structures similar to the one for the Takshashila complex in Surat, where the fire occurred.

“We have identified 50 such complexes in Surat and the process of sealing them has begun. We sealed 20 such complexes by Saturday,” said Singh.

“The principal secretary of the Urban Development and Planning Department has been sent to Surat to investigate the case and submit a report. The Chief Minister has called for a meeting on Monday to discuss short-term, mid-term and long term-measures that can be taken to avert such a tragedy in future,” said Singh.