Two months after being allowed to reopen their businesses, hotel and guest house owners in the nation’s capital are very concerned. While their businesses have already been hit hard due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lack of clarity on the new fire safety standards, notified by the Delhi government in May of last year, has compounded their concerns.
The Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association (DHROA) met with Satyendar Jain State Urban Development last month to ask them to extend the deadline for implementing the new standards currently in place by one year. revision course. The current deadline was March 31, 2020.
The Delhi government notified the new fire safety standards in May, three months after a fire at Karol Bagh’s Arpit Palace hotel left 17 people dead.
But following objections raised by hotel and guest house owners, the Delhi government in November last year formed a subcommittee chaired by a special police (licensing) commissioner to review and make appropriate recommendations for fire safety in these institutions. The owners had until March 31 of this year to comply with the new standards.
Mohit Shah, secretary general of DHROA, said: “There is no clarity on the status of the new fire safety standards. We’re in a Catch-22 situation. Our establishments are cleared by firefighters according to old standards. We don’t know whether we need to make changes according to the new standards or not because there is no clarity on the new standards. We want the deadline to be extended until March 31, 2021 so that we can run our businesses without any fear. “
However, that committee has yet to submit its report, a senior government official said. A senior Delhi police officer from the licensing department said: “The report is almost final and should be submitted within the coming week.”
When contacted, Jain said, “We will extend the compliance deadline due to the Covid-19 situation.”
Hotel owners have said they want the deadline extended at the earliest.
Murli Mani, owner of a hotel in Karol Bagh and chairman of DHROA, said: “The company is hit hard because of Covid. We run the business in fear due to a lack of clarity on fire standards. In case of fire, the existing fire NOC [no-objection certificate] be considered valid? The fire department also does not renew expired notices of compliance. What will happen to these people? “
A senior Delhi Fire Service (DFS) official, who asked not to be named, said: “Those who did not comply with the changes notified in May 2019, technically do not have a valid NOC. As the implementation deadline has not been extended and the modification of the new rules has not been notified, the rules notified in May are in force.
According to the new changes, cooking or cooking activities in any form are not allowed on the roofs or basements of buildings, and the storage of flammable materials or temporary roofs is prohibited on the terraces.
In addition, flammable materials – such as carpets and wood or foam panels – are not allowed in passageways, corridors and stairs of buildings, and the storage of gas cylinders in violation of the standards prescribed by the Code. national building is also prohibited.
Hotel owners had raised objections to some provisions of the amendment, such as the installation of carbon monoxide detectors and fire doors or fire protection, and the absence of fire NoCs in the area. hotels over four floors. “We had opposed the installation of fire doors in guest houses and suggested that sprinklers be allowed. There were other issues that we raised. We want our fire NOC to be considered valid until next year. The government should notify the new standards as soon as possible, ”said Boddy Lohia, president of the Mahipalpur Hotel Owners Association.
Former DFS chief AK Sharma said the government should notify the new standards so hotel owners can comply. “The government should take notice and extend the implementation deadline. Now that the implementation deadline has not been extended so far, the new rules notified in May are now in force. But hotel owners cannot be held responsible as the government has yet to notify the final standards. “