RESIDENTS WARNED AGAINST BARRICADING BALCONIES AFTER MOTHER AND DAUGHTER DIE IN HORRIFIC APARTMENT BLOCK FIRE
18th October 2021
As reported in the Indian Express, a circular released by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) calls for residents and owners of apartments in complexes to adhere to official guidance regarding building alterations. It follows the death of 82-year-old Lakshmi Devi and her daughter Bhagya Rekha (59) in a blaze which broke out in their flat in Bengaluru, the largest city in the Indian state of Karnataka, on Tuesday, September 21st. Rekha’s husband Bheem Sen (64), was injured in the incident and taken to hospital for treatment.
The mother and daughter became trapped in their property, part of a residential complex, due to a sealed grille on the balcony which prevented people from helping them. According to a police report, filmed footage of the incident showed one of the victims screaming for help as bystanders below looked on helplessly. The barricaded balcony also affected the rescue operation by fire officials. Investigations into how the blaze started are continuing. Police suspect it may have been caused by a cylinder blast. Forensic teams are also looking into the possibility that the blaze could have been triggered by a short circuit.
In response to the tragedy, the BBMP advised occupiers and owners of apartments within complexes to adhere to the Building Bye-laws 2003 and National Building Code of India 2016 guidelines. In addition, the authority warned against the installation of safety grilles in balconies and ‘other similar unsafe practice’.
As reported by the Indian Express, BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said that after obtaining the Commencement Certificate (CC) and Occupancy Certificate (OC), covering the balcony, modifying them or having additional structures is against the guidelines.
Mr Gupta said unsafe practices leading to danger in the construction of the houses would not be permitted. “If there is a need for modification at the residential complexes or other buildings, pre-approval must be obtained from BBMP competent authorities,” he added.