London fire: A massive fire engulfed the 24-story residential Grenfell Tower in North Kensington in London today, killing a number of people. London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton confirmed that there were fatalities in the major fire accident. “I am very sad to confirm that there have been a number of fatalities. I cannot confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building,” she said. Officials also fear the huge building would collapse even as a large number of firefighters were deployed to fight the blaze. The exact cause of the fire has not yet been known and no casualty has been reported but the London city administration has declared it as a “major incident”.
The images and videos of the massive fire in the London highrise have, however, sent shock waves across the world, raising concerns over safety arrangements in tall buildings in many countries, including India. Here we take a look at how safe are Indian highrises in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to fire, as reported by media in the last two-years.
- A CAG report last year highlighted that in Maharashtra, which is India’s most urbanised state, most of the highrises were sitting duck for fire disasters. The report found gross anomalies and inadequacies in fire safety arrangements in high rises as well as petrol pumps, LPG stations, firecracker shops, and saw mills, according to IE.
- The report said that around 78% of funds marked for the purchase of fire safety appliances, rescue vehicles and equipment were unused between 2010 and 2015 in cities like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, Amravati, and Nagpur. It also highlighted that even the existing fire services were ill-equipped.
- Times of India reported in April this year that around 86% of highrises in Nagpur face fire accident threat. An audit by Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s fire department found that out of 1596 buildings, which are 15 metres or higher, only 282 had complied with fire safety norms.
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) June 14, 2017
- Another report by ToI in February this year said that highrise building developers in Kolhapur, Maharashtra were unable to sell flats because of fire safety concerns.
- In January this year, District Fire Officer in Hassan, Karnataka served notices to 10 highrises for not meeting required fire safety standards, reported The Hindu. The structures included Janapriya Hospital, Mangala Hospital, SSM Hospital, Sanjeevini Hospital, and N.D.R.K. Hospital etc.
- In Bengaluru, most of the highrises were found to have flouted fire safety norms last year. According to ToI, the Karnataka fire department had marked 15,048 highrises in the city that posed serious fire hazard.
- Close to the national capital, Gurgaon, a city full of highrises, had to borrow fire safety equipment from a private firm early this year. A report by The Hindu in March said the Gurgaon Fire Department had only 22 fire-fighting vehicles and didn’t have equipment to reach the top levels of highrises in the city. UP Police fire department also found that 21 highrises in Kaushambi, Ghaziabad were lacking fire safety norms. These housing societies were served notices by the department, HT reported last year.
Major incident declared at Grenfell Tower in Kensington. 40 fire engines & 200 firefighters at the scene – follow @LondonFire for updates.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 14, 2017