The BBMP was pulled up by the high court for not setting up fire safety measures at the KR Market. Thereafter, the BBMP commissioner himself paid a surprise visit and was staggered to find the numerous unauthorised constructions and encroached footpaths there.
The high court on Thursday directed the BBMP to comply with the observations made by the fire and emergency services with regard to the safety measures to be implemented at the market within two weeks and submit a compliance report.
The BBMP will conduct a drive on Friday to ensure footpath encroachments are cleared and unauthorised constructions shut down, to enable the ease of access to the fire brigade.
“The volume of encroachments was such that the fire brigade won’t be able to progress easily during emergency evacuations. Hence, removing the encroachments is the immediate measure we took,” said N Manjunath Prasad, BBMP commissioner.
“Many shopkeepers in the market have encroached three-fourth of the space in front of their shops, displaying produce and other merchandise. They have even encroached the footpaths by parking vehicles and keeping their stuff,” he added.
About Rs 2.7 crore of the Rs 50 crore sanctioned for the renovation of the KR Market, under the Smart Cities Mission by the BBMP, is going to be spent on fire safety measures, according to the commissioner. The plan is to install water sprinklers, signage, smoke detectors and deploy firefighters.
The BBMP is also planning to have a fire substation at the market. “The BBMP will bear the cost of infrastructure and maintain the station with a minimum of 25 fire personnel. Their salaries will be paid by the civic body. The fire station is not just for the market, but for any emergency in and around the premises,” Prasad said.
The BBMP is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the entire market area at various points with immediate effect.
As many as 30 marshals are going to be deployed as well. “There are a set of people in the market entrusted to identify and seal unauthorised shops. But now it looks like they are hand in glove with the shopkeepers. So far, they have not taken any action. We will remove and replace them with the marshals,” the Palike commissioner added.