SRINAGAR: Lack of fire gaps in congested localities of Srinagar is turning into a fire-fighting nightmare while municipal officials say residents are not giving heed to fire gap rules during construction.
The building rules specify a fire gap of eight to ten feet between two houses, but with land scarcity in the city, most residents ignore the rule leading to a fire hazard.
“In old city there is lot of problem as there are old structures and they are not maintaining the gap between two houses,” an official in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation said.
He added that most of the time people don’t approach the municipality for building permissions, and neighbours resolve the matters among themselves, meaning, the municipality doesn’t receive any complaints of violation.
“We received more than 30 complaints related to this issue but after that both the parties solve issue themselves and we are not aware about that,” he said.
He explained there must be a 10-feet fire gap between two residential houses.
“In the developing areas we follow fire gap as per law. When people come here for permission first we see the land after that we give permission to them, and people of civil lines areas are very conscious about the issues, sometime we receive complaint for not maintaining the fire gap, and we will do action immediately,” he said.
However, one side of residential structures could be permitted adjacent, and blind, if the minimum gap of 10 feet is provided on the three sides in the form of semi detached / row housing, he said.
As per the rules, in a residential plot of 700 to 1000 sqft, a front gap of 8 feet and rear gap of 6 feet has to be laid and two sides can be built blind. For 1001 to 1500 sqft plot there must be front gab of 15 feet, rear 8 feet, one side 8 feet and other side blind, for 1501 to 2000 sqft, front gap must be 15 feet and rear gap 10 feet and other two sides gap at 10 feet, in 2001 to 5000 sqft front gap must be 20 feet, rear gap 10 feet and other two sides 10 ft.
The empowered committee may also grant relaxation under special circumstances, like in cases of sites for housing schemes for economically weaker sections and low income group, slum clearance and improvement scheme as well as reconstruction in case of densely populated area, and plot sub- divided due to family partition and specification as existed prior to the damage provided the use conforms to provision of master plan/ zonal plan.
However the Fire and Emergency Services have to face problems in the old city during fire incidents.
“When any fire incident takes place we cannot control the fire as within no time fire engulfs many houses. If there is a gap between two residential houses may be we can control the fire,” an official said.
“In just one month three fire incidents took place in the city and almost in every incident eight to nine houses burned, it’s because they are not maintaining the fire gap.”
The official said that they have asked the SMC several times to enforce the fire gap laws.