Sunday, July 11, 2010

Official Hotel for CWG, Hotel Ashok Running Without Fire Clearance

Ashok, the official hotel for the Commonwealth Games, is functioning without a valid fire clearance certificate for more than a month now. In gross violation of safety norms, the hotel including some floors where the fire safety system was reportedly taken ‘‘off the loop’’ for renovation work is open to guests.

While hotel officials claimed the certificate is due any day and the inspection is over, the concerned divisional fire officer said that the department has been ‘‘too busy of late’’ and the inspection is pending for a month now. He also conceded that the department normally does not allow any ‘‘grace period’’ for renewal of the certificate and hotels have to do so annually. But, he made it clear; some concessions can be made for a hotel that has cleared the fire test for 30 years now.

Meanwhile, a complaint received by the office of the commissioner of police (reference number 5383/email dated 12/6/2010) and the fire department has alleged that none of the sprinklers in the hotel are working.

The divisional fire officer said there is no truth in the letter as the hotel ‘‘has been getting a fire clearance for 30 years and the system cannot disappear in a day’’. Interestingly, the 4th, 5th, 7th and ground floors of the hotel are being renovated and overhauling of the fire equipment is within the scope of that work, confirmed officials in the public relations department of the hotel. The smoke detectors too have reportedly been disabled in many areas, said sources.

Sources in the fire department said the hotel has not yet submitted the ‘‘as-built’’ plan for the floors on which renovation is happening which is a mandatory requirement for the fire certificate.

While chief fire officer R C Sharma admitted that the fire safety mechanism on some floors of the hotel where renovation is on has been disabled, his deputy, A K Sharma, made it clear that fire clearance is issued for the entire building and, hence, if any part of the system is not up to the specifications, the entire building is refused a certificate.

The hotel’s general manager, P K Mathur said, ‘‘Our certificate expired in Mayend and the inspection happened around 10-15 days back. All the hydrants, sprinklers, everything is working.’’ Divisional fire officer Atul Garg confirmed receipt of the letter about the sprinklers but says there is no hurry to check its authenticity as ‘‘the hotel has written to us for renewal and the inspection is due for about a month now. We have been too busy. But the certificate is a mere technicality as it is not a new hotel and it has been getting fire clearances for three decades.’’ But he conceded that extensive renovation work or upgrading of equipment may require disconnecting the fire safety mechanism in parts. ‘‘But all systems in The Ashok are installed,’’ he stressed.