Friday, February 26, 2010

Officials knew, but did nothing

Officials knew, but did nothing
Electrical inspectors, scandalised to see gensets and 1,000 litres of diesel stored in barrels on the terrace, had issued Carlton Towers a notice nine months ago. But no action followed

FOLLOWING the tragedy on Tuesday that claimed nine lives at Carlton Towers, skeletons have been tumbling out of every department's closet. Reports emerged on Thursday that the building had 1,000 litres of diesel and nine diesel generator sets stowed on the terrace. The department of electrical inspectorate says it had foreseen the problem and even sent a notice to the owners.
“Nine months ago we had issued a notice to Carlton Towers after a field examination. The diesel tanks stored on the terrace are a direct violation of the Indian Electricity Rules of 1956. Yet the owners had done nothing to correct it,” said a source within the department.
A senior technical engineer said the nine diesel generator sets were also unauthorised. "Before the installation of generator sets of more than 10 kw capacity, owners need a written permission from us. We have given them partial permission for some sets but not for storing diesel. The rule says building owners need to reserve a separate space for generators," said the engineer.
What has baffled officials is how the generator sets were shifted to the terrace. "It is very dangerous to shift fuel and equipment up, and in those quantities. They have either pumped the fuel up or transported it in the lift. As for the generators, only a crane could have lifted it to the terrace," said the official. However, Chief Electrical Engineer D H Basavaraj refused to comment.
Some of the nine gensets were connected to three cellular towers on the building. Questions are now being raised about their authorisation as well. A year ago, the Urban Development Department made it mandatory for owners to get clearance before fixing transmitting towers on multi-storied buildings.
The CMC Act was amended accordingly and towers built before the law came into force were also brought under its purview. The status on the structures on Carlton Towers however remains unclear.
BBMP Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena, who received a report from East Zone officials about the building's clearances, remained unavailable for comment. Officials of every other department responsible for issuing clearances, including town planning, engineering and revenue, did not take calls.
A team from Forensic Science Laboratory, police
and Bescom visited Carlton Towers on Thursday.
Chief Fire Officer Ramesh
said he would submit a report later in the day.


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