AHMEDABAD: Following the Gujarat high court’s directions to take strict measures against those violating building bylaws, the state authorities sealed 40 highrise buildings in municipality areas across the state because these structures did not have valid building use permission.
For the fire department’s No Objection Certificate, 43 hospitals and 69 schools were sealed last month. The state urban development and urban housing department informed the high court about the action taken pursuant to directions issued on February 15.
The high court has been hearing this issue on a PIL filed by petitioner-advocate Amit Panchal, who sought proper implementation of the Fire Safety Act after eight Covid patients were killed in a fire at Shrey hospital in Ahmedabad in August 2020.
The government said that an aggressive drive has been undertaken to make buildings compliant with provisions of the Fire Safety Act. Besides sealing hospital and school buildings for lack of fire NOC, 10 hospitals and seven schools have been closed. There is not a single hospital or school without fire NOC that is operating in municipality areas, and only OPD in hospitals can function, the court was informed.
Meanwhile, the survey undertaken on how many highrise buildings are capable of being BU-compliant after required modifications are carried out is likely to be over in 10 days. “This task has been undertaken only with a view to minimise the hardship that may have to be faced, more particularly by residents of the highrises,” the government’s affidavit said. Process of sealing is underway for buildings that cannot be made BU compliant.
Meanwhile, the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Surat filed affidavits furnishing details about buildings which still lack fire NOC, BU permission and the actions that have been taken. In Surat, only four buildings out of 13,343 did not have fire NOC, but two of them are government-run hospitals. There are 165 hospital buildings without BU permission, and the Surat Municipal Corporation claimed to have sealed 159 hospitals and only four OPDs are functional in these hospitals.
The HC has posted further hearing on this issue on March 21.
On February 15, the HC had directed the state authorities to take immediate action to seal highrises in municipalities across the state that do not have building use permit as such buildings fall in the “category of unauthorised construction or unauthorised building or unsafe buildings”. The bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri had then cited an HC order passed earlier, directing authorities to act against defaulters. The court accepted the reason that a surge in Covid cases had slowed action against such buildings till then. The high court also ordered that schools without fire NOCs not be allowed to restart after their closure for Covid safety.