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HC Directs Delhi Fire Services, MCD To Inspect Coaching Centres

A bench headed by Justice Yashwant Varma asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Delhi Fire Services to point out the "deficiencies" to the coaching centres and issue appropriate directions if they are found vulnerable to incidents of fire.

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The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the city's fire services and the civic body to inspect all coaching centres here to ascertain if they are complying with the fire safety norms.

A bench headed by Justice Yashwant Varma asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Delhi Fire Services to point out the "deficiencies" to the coaching centres and issue appropriate directions if they are found vulnerable to incidents of fire.

"You will point out the deficiencies to individual coaching centres, educational centres...Give them an opportunity to ensure compliance," the bench, also comprising Justice Ravinder Dudeja, told the authorities.

"A joint inspection by both MCD and Delhi Fire Services (will be carried out). Indicate all non-conforming factors to all occupants. Give them time to comply. Any (centres) which are found totally hazardous, issue directions and they will have the right to approach us," the court added.

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The bench clarified that the coaching centres, which shall be given time to work on the shortcomings, will ensure that instruction to students is not disrupted.

"If you face an eventuality where it is to be shut down, you will continue instructions. You will not disrupt any instructions or coaching or other activities. It can always be continued online," the court said.

The bench said it will pass a formal order on the point of inspection which would give a "holistic idea" about the compliance of safety norms by coaching centres and listed the matter for hearing in January.

The court was hearing a case it had registered on its own after taking cognisance of an incident of fire that broke out at a coaching centre in Mukherjee Nagar in June.

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The high court had earlier said "fire safety is a must" and all coaching centres should either comply with their statutory requirements under the Delhi Master Plan (MPD), 2021 and other applicable regulations or face closure.

An association of coaching centres which has sought review of the interim order directing closure of non-complaint institutes, assured the court last month that they did not intend to put the students to any "risk" but it was not possible for them to comply with the MPD requirements such as having two staircases, as they were operating from buildings already constructed in residential areas in a certain manner.

In a status report filed in the matter, the Delhi Police had told the court that out of the 583 coaching institutes running in the national capital only 67 had no-objection certificates (NOC) from the Delhi Fire Services.

The Delhi Fire Services, in its status report, said it conducted a survey of 461 coaching centres and found that requisite fire preventive and safety measures, as per the Delhi Fire Service Act and its rules, had not been complied with.

On June 16, the high court took cognisance of a fire incident at a coaching institute in northwest Delhi's Mukherjee Nagar the previous day.

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Taking note of a news report that showed students of the institute smashing windows and climbing down using ropes in a desperate attempt to escape, the high court had asked the local authorities to file a status report. Some students were reported injured in the incident.

-With PTI Input

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