Restaurants in Bengaluru place LPG cylinders on roads in violation of the fire safety norms.
Raju Zacharia, a resident of Kammanahalli, informed The Observer: “Restaurants in my neighbourhood place LPG cylinders outside, on the roads, near transformers. This is a major hazard, and the authorities concerned should do something about it.”
Krishna S, a resident of Nagawara, said: “An EatFit outlet has stocked cylinders in large numbers, posing a risk to residents. The cylinders are placed in the driveway of a residential- cum-commercial building which is against the fire safety rules.”
Asked about the problem, C. Basavanna, deputy director (fire prevention), said: “Stocking of cylinders in bulk is not an offence, but it should be under the permissible limit of 500 kg. All buildings are expected to have an NOC. However, if a commercial outlet is opened in a residential building, the NOC already issued for the residential building is applicable to the commercial outlet as well. BBMP is in charge of providing the certificate.”
What does the fire safety department do if the rules are flouted: Basavanna said: “Electricity to the building is cut off.”
He added: “It is illegal to store cylinders on driveways and roads. We take strict action against such violations by restaurants and commercial buildings.”
According to the documents provided by the fire safety department, compressed gas cylinders should be stored only in sheds that should be constructed from non-flammable material under the Gas Cylinder Rules, 2004.
Section 13 of the Karnataka Fire Services Act, 1964, says the state government may, by notification in the official gazette, order owners or occupiers of premises in any area or any class of premises used for purposes which in its opinion are likely to cause a risk of fire to take precautions specified in the notification.
Dr V. Ramesh, an expert on urban planning and safety, explained that the problem is rampant in Bengaluru. Several restaurants place cylinders on roads. “Maybe large restaurants may not break the rules; but small restaurants do this due to space constraints. These small restaurants often place their cylinders near the transformers which is dangerous.”
BBMP is responsible for issuing NOCs. Food inspectors should inspect premises to make sure the rules are followed, so that there is no risk to people in the vicinity, Ramesh said. The problem should be dealt with in the initial stage by BBMP.
Bengaluru is the first Indian city to come up with a city-specific fire safety blueprint to be implemented over five years. The 17-page ‘Five-year Blueprint for Bengaluru’ was a joint effort of Beyond Carlton, a city-based fire safety community that was formed following the Carlton Towers fire tragedy in 2010 and the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services Department.
The last major fire incident reported from Bengaluru was the Kailash Bar tragedy in Kalasipalya on January 8, 2018. Five employees who were locked up inside the bar suffocated to death after a fire broke out in the wee hours.