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‘Tragedy Waiting to Happen’: Only 3 Restaurants in Delhi’s Khan Market Have Fire Safety Clearance

Senior officers say that out of around 30 restaurants in Khan Market, only three meet the safety parameters. (PTI/File photo)

Senior officers say that out of around 30 restaurants in Khan Market, only three meet the safety parameters. (PTI/File photo)

The documents accessed by CNN news18 show that only three restaurants in Khan Market stand with a valid fire NOC.

New Delhi: In a glaring lapse, only three restaurants in the Lutyens’ Delhi’s Khan Market, a popular hotspot for shopping and known for its eateries, have a valid No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Delhi Fire Service (DFS).

Senior officers say that out of around 30 restaurants in the market, only three meet the safety parameters set by the DFS while all others are in violation of the mandate. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that issues licences to these restaurants has said that their licenses will not be renewed this year unless they obtain a valid fire NOC.

The market, as the shopkeepers and owners say, pulls a footfall of as high as 4,000 to 5,000 every day, especially on the weekends. The Lutyens most sought after shopper’s stop is also a popular place when it comes to eating out. It has around 30 eateries and restaurants.

The documents accessed by CNN news18 show that only three restaurants in Khan Market stand with a valid fire NOC while all of them still have a valid license from the NDMC.

Atul Garg, director, Delhi Fire Service, said they have written to NDMC to not grant licenses to these restaurants as they are in violation of the fire safety norms. “These parameters are mandatory as far as public safety is concerned. In all those restaurants which do not follow our guidelines, in time of fire, it will evacuation and rescue of the guests will become a challenging task that may result in unwanted casualties,” Garg said.

The director added that even in other markets in the capital such as Hauz Khaz Village, several restaurant owners have overlooked these mandatory requirements. “At present, more than 2,000 restaurants in the capital do not have valid fire safety clearances,” he added.

Some of these parameters that the fire department has mandated, apart from having the basic fire-fighting equipment, include having broad staircases, alternate rescue exits, the alternate exit must not be blocked, no construction of additional permanent structure, etc.

The president of the Khan Market association, Sanjeev Mehra, also confirmed the lapse. “Many restaurants here flout the safety norms. Municipal Council also grants them the license. Public life is at stake. The two departments are at loggerheads and that has resulted in such lapses being overseen. Definitely there’s a tragedy waiting to unfold,” said Mehra, who also runs a shop in the market.

When CNN news18 reached out to NDMC, officials who wished not to be named, said they had granted licenses to these restaurants in 2018. “We give license for three years. All the licenses expiring in 2021 will not be renewed unless they obtain a valid NOC from the DFS,” said a senior officer.

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first published:August 19, 2021, 13:43 IST