BJD -Opp slugfest over framing of rules under Fire Service Act

Bhubaneswar: In the backdrop of the massive blaze at Sum Hospital that claimed 26 lives so far, Opposition Congress and BJP has targeted the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in State for failing to frame the rules for successful implementation of Orissa Fire Service Act- 1993, which has made the fire department a powerless body.

“The fire safety act was passed in the Odisha Assembly in 1993 during the tenure of current CM’s father (Biju Babu). However, his son (Naveen Patnaik) has grossly failed to implement the act brought by his father. Now, the matter has gone to such level that the government departments can never hide their faults”, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said.

Similarly, former minister and top Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik questioned the efficacy of government system. “It is clearly known from the helplessness of the DG (Fire service) that how the government is functioning in State. Only CM Naveen Patnaik and Home department which has been held by himself are responsible for the entire episode”, Patnaik said.
On the other hand, BJD admitted the lapses in framing the rules, but flayed the Congress-led government at the same time. “It could have been framed between 1995 and 2000 (the period during which JP Patnaik-led Congress government was in power) or between 2000 and 2016. So, there are lapses somewhere. The government will take appropriate action in this regard”, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said.

The recent Statement of the Director General (Fire service) has clearly exposed government inefficiency in the approving the proposed rules. His speech showed the powerlessness of fire service department to take action against those who are violating the safety norms.

Citing an example of a private hospital violating the rules, the DG showed the powerlessness of his department. “I do not want to name a hospital in Bhubaneswar, which has been declared ‘unsafe’ in the context of fire safety. But, it is still running despite our closure notice. We do not have the executing power act against them. We expect early framing of the rules of Orissa Fire Service Act under which the fire department would be more empowered to initiate action against the erring hospitals”, DG Binay Behera had said earlier.

These lines of the top fire department officer has illustrated that there is a law regarding fire safety in our State, but error in the entire system has led to the tragedy at Sum Hospital. Orissa Fire Service Act was passed in the Assembly 23 years ago. But, the government is yet to approve a set of proposed rules under the legislation. As a result, not only the Sum, but also a number of private health clinics are running unabatedly sans valid fire safety certificate. Despite being aware about the matter, the fire department has become a mere toothless tiger, sources said.

Official data says 271 private hospital and nursing homes had applied for fire safety certificate out of which 244 applications were rejected by the fire department on the ground that these have failed satisfy the safety guidelines. However, it is a matter of surprise that the Health department and Khurdha district administration had renewed the license of many of them.