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Fear of fire in nightlife hub of Delhi : Mail Today, News – India Today


A visit by the Mail Today team on Saturday night revealed that it is almost impossible for a fire tender to enter the premises if some untoward incident occurs during the rush hours.

Hauz Khas Village may have turned into the city’s most prominent nightlife hub, but its fire safety norms continue to remain dubious. If its loosely-hung electric wires, unplanned buildings, narrow lanes and rampant use of LPG cylinders were not enough, out of more than 50 eateries and bars in the Village, only three have fire safety permits.


The situation becomes more alarming during weekends when there is huge crowd and roads are packed with vehicles. A visit by the Mail Today team on Saturday night revealed that it is almost impossible for a fire tender to enter the premises if some untoward incident occurs during the rush hours. A fire department official says, “Only three of the 50-odd eateries and pubs have certificate from the fire department. The rest don’t have any fire safety certificate.” He, however, adds that these eateries aren’t overtly breaking the rules.

As per the rules, the restaurants or pubs having less than 50 seats don’t need any certificate from fire department. But, Mail Today found the situation otherwise. These restaurants might have less than 50 seats, but most of them were overcrowded with the presence of over 100 people.

“A raid by the excise department in the year 2013 had exposed the rot as about 110 people were found in a bar which was permitted to have less than 50 visitors at a time,” said the official. A person working with a pub in the area said, “This is all about business. You can see the crowd. On weekends we have more than 150 people most of the time.”

Asked if the police or any other authority keep a tab on the situation, he said: “The owner earns money and he ‘satisfies’ all the concerned authorities to run his business smoothly. This area does not have much bigger spaces. So we have no option but to run the pubs from small places.” Fire department officials said they can’t do anything about the rules. “Permits are not required if they claim to have the capacity of less than 50 people. Whenever we get a request for permits, our officials visit the place to verify the truth. Permits have been issued only to three bars in the Village,” said Atul Garg, chief fire officer.


Mail Today found that many of the restaurants were running on the second and third floors, making them prone to accidents and disasters. In case of any fire incident, it will be extremely difficult to carry out the rescue operation. Recalling a Diwali incident a few years ago, in which a pub was gutted, Garg said, “It took more than two hours to douse the flame. Any other day, when the restaurant is open, it could have been a major tragedy as a fire engine couldn’t even have reached the spot.”

Officials of Delhi Fire Services said that it is the responsibility of the civic body to refer the case to them for fire clearance; however, no case of Hauz Khas Village has been referred to the department in the recent past. Expressing concern about the fire hazard, Garg said, “Lack of space is a major hurdle during any rescue operation. A fire engine cannot take a U-turn after getting inside the market area. The only way to come out is to reverse back. This was the main reason why it took more than two hours to douse the Diwali fire at Hauz Khas a few years ago.”

Source: Indiatoday

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