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DU colleges compromise with fire safety, play with students’ lives

Editor's ChoiceDU colleges compromise with fire safety, play with students’ lives

Several renowned colleges and departments of the Delhi University are functioning without obtaining a Fire Safety Clearance (FSC) certificate or a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Delhi Fire Services (DFS), putting thousands of students’ lives at risk in case of a disaster.

Delhi University colleges like LSR (Lady Shri Ram College for Women), Jesus and Mary College, Saheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Miranda House and College of Vocational Studies have been functioning without obtaining an NOC or Fire Clearance Certificate from the Delhi Fire Services, according to an RTI reply received by Mohit Gupta, a Delhi-based advocate. The Sunday Guardian tried to speak to the principal of these colleges, but most of them were not aware that they required any such certificates from the Fire Department. 

Dr Suman Sharma, principal of LSR, said over telephone, “I am unaware of anything as such. Please speak to my colleagues. I am in a conference outside Delhi.”

Dr Rosily, principal of Jesus and Mary, did not reply to The Sunday Guardian’s calls and text messages. 

However, Anju Srivastava, principal of Hindu College, said that her college had received the Fire Safety Clearance certificate some four months ago and it is valid for the next three years.

Even Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya National Institute for Persons with Physical Disabilites has not received an NOC from the Delhi Fire Services. However, according to the RTI, the institute had applied for an NOC in May last year, and is now waiting for a clearance from DFS.

Even departments directly under the Delhi University such as the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education, Computer Science, and Medical Sciences have failed to provide any information on the Fire Safety Clearance certificate of the buildings where classes are held for students. In the reply given to the  RTI questions, these departments have said that the buildings are maintained by the Estate section or the Engineering Department and that they should be contacted for any information. 

Mohit Gupta, who filed the RTI, said, “Fire and structural safety is never taught to the students, nor practised by schools and universities. The fire services are mute spectators.” 

When The Sunday Guardian contacted Naresh Kumar, Assistant Registrar, Estate, Delhi University, he said, “The Engineering Department is supposed to take care of all these issues and I do not know anything about it.”

However, Devesh Sinha, Dean of Colleges for Delhi University, told this newspaper, “This information is coming to me for the first time. The principal and administrations of the colleges are responsible for ensuring fire safety in their respective colleges and we cannot put students’ lives in danger. Since this issue has now been brought to my notice, I will enquire into this.” 

According to DFS officials, they do not have any list of higher educational institutes that have been given Fire Safety Clearance certificates. “There is no list available with us.  That is because hardly anyone has applied for the certificate. Unless one applies, we cannot do anything,” a DFS official said.

Another DFS officer added that if the DFS started evaluating fire safety norms being practised by colleges of Delhi University, most of the buildings would have to be demolished: “Delhi University colleges are very old buildings and most of them are lower than three storeys and are exempted from clearance certificates. But most colleges have been erecting structures in the last few years. These require fire safety clearances. However, the colleges do not apply for the same.” 

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