The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Wednesday warned residents against the installation of safety grille and other “unsafe practices”, a day after a 59-year-old woman and her elderly mother were trapped and killed in a fire that broke out inside their flat. Visuals of one of the victims, Bhagyarekha, 59, in the barricaded balcony screaming for help as people watched helplessly from below sent shockwaves across the city. Sealed safety grille installed in the balcony of the apartment at Devarachikkanahalli impeded rescue efforts.
“Going forward, these kinds of unsafe practices leading to danger in the construction of the houses will not be permitted. If there is a need for modification at the residential complexes/other buildings, pre-approval must be obtained from BBMP competent authorities,” said BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta.
In most apartments across the city, installing safety grille or barricading balconies is a common practice as a means to protect children from toppling over. It is also seen as a safety measure against possible intruders. However, it is also against the rules. Within the BBMP limits, as per the Building Construction Guidelines-2003 and National Building Code of India-2016, after obtaining the Occupancy Certificate and the Commencement Certificate, covering the balcony and additional construction/modifying in balconies are against rules. But this has been observed across the city, said the BBMP in a circular.
A resident of Ashrith Aspire — the apartment complex where the fire broke out — said the builder had not put safety grilles for the balconies, but that individual flat owners chose to put them up. “There was a spate of burglaries in the area a few years ago and many took to installing grilles. A few flats have put up grilles with an option for an emergency exit. But the flat damaged by fire was completely enclosed. We will bring this up in our association meeting. At least all flats must have an emergency exit option in these grilles,” he said.
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