Thursday, February 25, 2010

Carlton Towers closed, staff clueless on future

Carlton Towers closed, staff clueless on future

Johnlee Abraham
First Published : 25 Feb 2010 05:08:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 25 Feb 2010 06:59:49 AM IST

BANGALORE: Pieces of glass from the windows that were shattered lie strewn on the ground, so do forgotten shoes and bits of burnt clothes; and not a single person is around.

This was the scene at the Carlton Towers on Wednesday, a day after the fire claimed nine lives and left many injured.

The building is now sealed and shut, and the employees, who worked in the various companies housed here till Tuesday, face an uncertain future as “no one really knows when the buildings will be reopened again”.

“Our company is situated on the fourth floor, but it is sealed now and we even don’t know when the building will be reopened again,” said Satish, an employee with Vaibhav Solutions..

Satish was among the ten people who were stuck on the fourth floor and was rescued by the fire fighers after one and a half hours. However, he was back at the site on Wednesday, hoping to retrieve files and equipments so that he can resume work.

Many others like Satish, who were rescued and were unharmed, visited the site to gather back the sense of being alive.

While many employees expressed hope that the government will reopen the building soon, some are ready to stay away for now. An employee in the hospitality industry said, “The building will be closed for at least a month now, as it will be reopened after the government inquiry and everything.” In the meantime, he will, “Stay at home, what else?” Some others fear that the inquiry process would take a longtime and have decided to move out.

“We just saw a room near the building; it is a much smaller but is enough for a temporary measure,” said the proprietor of a computer repairs company.

The Carton towers house at least 67 offices.

Cops may nab Carlton Towers owner

The police have registered a suo moto case against the ‘unknown owner’ and management of Carlton Towers for causing death by negligence and causing grievous hurt to people, Ulsoor sub-division Assistant Commissioner of Police G B Manjunath told .

“Based on the consolidated report and fact finding from the technical teams, which is expected in three to four days, arrests would be made,” Manjunath said. A technical team from the BBMP, Bescom, PWD, Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), and the Chief Electrical Inspectorate, examined the building.

A KSRP platoon and around 30 local police personnel have been stationed on the premises. The police are clueless about the real owners of the building: the first owner sold it to 96 people about 15 years ago. No damages or casualties have been reported in the BWing that comprises the ground and six upper floors. The accident occurred at the seven-storied A-Wing.

After accident, BBMP wakes up to safety audits

BBMP in co-ordination with the Fire and Emergency Services will conduct fire safety audit regularly in all high-rise buildings in Bangalore.

This initiative was announced, following Tuesday’s major fire at Carlton Towers. BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena told Express, “Tuesday’s fire accident is tragic and the BBMP along with the other agencies including Bescom, fire and police departments, is investigating and the report is expected to be ready by tomorrow.” There are no major building violations and we have issued occupancy certificate after checking that building norms are followed. However, we can come to a conclusion only after the report is prepared and the exact cause of the accident will be known, he said.

But the Palike will take up serious steps to avoid such accidents in the future. The BBMP officials will visit multi-storey buildings to determine possible violations . There will also be safety audits in all the multi storey buildings periodically, he added.

Fire due to negligence: SHRC chief

The death of people in Tuesday’s fire at Carlton Towers is due to negligence and is a violation of human rights, State Human Rights Commissioner (SHRC) S R Nayak said on Wednesday. Nayak visited Carlton Towers and observed “serious lapses on the part of regulatory authorities who failed to insist on safety and protection measures.” SHRC has issued notices to the chief secretary, DGP (fire and emergency services), commissioner of police and BBMP to submit reports and registered a suo moto case. Nayak told Express that in case the reports are not satisfactory and try to cover up the lapses, the SHRC would entrust investigation to a technical agency. “Most probably, we will ask IISc to prepare a report,” Nayak added.

The SHRC chairman said there were several illegal hoardings and generators in the terrace along with 10 barrels of diesel. “Also, the emergency exit was blocked. The causes of the tragedy seem to be defects in the construction.”

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