Buildings housing most of the prominent Central government offices in Lutyens’ Delhi are tinderboxes given the lack of necessary fire safety clearances from the Delhi Fire Service.
This state of affairs, say DFS sources, persists despite repeated reminders to the Central Public Works Department — which is tasked with the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the buildings — to put adequate fire safety measures in place over the last decade.
For instance, DFS reminders on shortcomings at the Transport Bhawan date back to 2007 and for North Block, which houses the Finance and Home Ministries, to 2011. The first reminder for NITI Aayog dates back to 2012.
The latest DFS reminder was issued to the Director General of CPWD on August 22.
A senior DFS officer said that such reminders are sent periodically, but never elicit a reply.
“We regularly conduct fire safety audits in these buildings and send reminders to the CPWD to rectify things but to date, no information about action being initiated in any of these buildings has been received,” said the officer.
The officer added that existing fire exits are blocked with old furniture and used as storage space for old files. The electrical fittings in most of the buildings are outdated and needed to be replaced.
A CPWD officer said most of these buildings are old and not much can be done in terms of fire safety because of the sheer scale of renovation it entails.
“During an inspection in an office in CGO complex, we found fire sensors covered with tape. We removed the tape but during the next inspection, the sensors were found taped again,” said the CPWD officer.