Extend deadline for new fire safety norms till March 2021: Hotel owners

As hotels and guesthouses in the capital gear up to reopen after a lull of five months, owners of such establishments have a new reason to worry — a bunch of new fire safety norms, which were notified in May 2019. The owners have requested the Delhi government to extend the deadline (from March 31, 2020 to March 31, 2021) for the implementation of the new norms that are currently under review.

A delegation of Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Association met chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in this regard. The new rules demand amendments to building bylaws to strengthen fire safety norms. As per the new amendments, kitchen or cooking activity in any form is not allowed on rooftops or basements of buildings, and storage of inflammable materials or temporary roofing is banned on terraces.

Besides, inflammable materials — like carpets and wooden or foam panelings — are not allowed in passages, corridors and staircases of buildings, and storage of gas cylinders in violation of standards prescribed by the National Building Code is also banned.
After a massive fire in Karol Bagh’s Hotel Arpit Palace claimed 17 lives in February last year, the Delhi government had inspected all hotels in Paharganj and Karol Bagh. The government had later notified amendments to the building bylaws to strengthen fire safety norms in May 2019. The amendments, which are under review after hotel owners raised concerns about certain provisions, were to be implemented by December 2019 but were extended till March 31, 2020.

In November last year, the Delhi government had constituted a sub-committee, which was chaired by a Special Commissioner of Police (Licensing), to review and make appropriate recommendations for fire safety of guest houses and restaurants. The committee is yet to submit its report, said a senior police official. Mohit Shah, general secretary of Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Association, said, “The process got delayed due to the pandemic. Our fire NoCs are not valid right now since the new norms were notified. After the recommendations of the committee are notified, we need time to implement the new fire safety norms. In our meeting with the CM, we requested him to extend the deadline for the implementation of the new norms till March 31, 2021.”

Hotel owners say that they need time till next year, as the industry is badly hit due to the pandemic and there is shortage of labourers. “Implementation of the new norms require some changes in our building. But right now, construction workers are not easily available. Moreover, we want to first restart our businesses,” said Boddy Lohia, president of Mahipalpur hotel owners’ association. The hotel owners had raised objections to a few provisions in the amendment, such as installation of Carbon monoxide detectors and fire check or protection doors, and no fire NoCs to hotels with more than four floors.