News Point: Supertech disowns firefighting responsibility at project Eco Village I, Greater Noida West, and intimidates the suffering homebuyers. Ravi Sinha reports on the classic case of callousness and high handedness on part of the builder.
It may sound to be a naïve query to ask whose responsibility is it to ensure the firefighting readiness in a housing apartment. However, the query has raised since the developers in Greater Noida West have been given such a free rein by the regulatory agencies that it seems the developer can even question the homebuyers for its own failure of firefighting.
The memories of Uphaar Tragedy on the fateful day of 13thJune, 1997, that claimed the lives of 59 and injured over 100 people, have not faded from the public memory. But it seems the developers in this part of the world are not ready to learn any lessons. For them firefighting is a mandatory provision that just needs to be installed, irrespective of its functionality.
The latest incident is at Supertech Eco Village I, Greater Noida West, which is one of the largest societies of the micro market and hence poses greater threat to the human lives. There are altogether 7,500 apartments in Supertech Eco Village 1 and in the partly delivered project around 2,000 families have already taken possession. Furthermore, in a market where density is higher than Noida and Greater Noida, such failures indicate large-scale violations of mandatory norms for the safety of the residents.
It has been only earlier this month that a fire broke out in the chimney of the kitchen in one of the apartments of the project. However, neither the fire alarm worked during the accident nor the maintenance staff were found to be pro-active or professionally trained to deal with such an eventuality.
Thereafter, on the homebuyers’ insistence the maintenance team agreed to check their own firefighting readiness in each of the towers. It could nevertheless prove to be a comedy of errors and the developer was exposed in front of the residents of the society that the housing complex is not ready to handle any future incident of fire.
In one such trial & error with the firefighting, it was more of an error than trial, leading to fire sprinklers getting burst in one of the apartments. The corrosion in the automatic fire sprinkler system had blocked it to the extent that it could only explode with the increasing water pressure.
It completely damaged the said apartment, paint of the wall and the buyer’s LED TV, Laptop and bed mattresses were all damaged. In a housing apartment where the quality of construction is pretty pathetic the incident only disfigured the walls.
What happened thereafter could be termed as not only callous response on part of the builder’s team but also high handedness and intimidating. The poor homebuyer was blamed for poor upkeep and maintenance of the fire sprinklers.
This nevertheless raises more questions than it could settle the issue of firefighting failure. Track2Realty asked these questions to Supertech through an email but the developer did not respond.
The questions that Supertech need to answer are:
Q. How is a homebuyer responsible for the firefighting & sprinkler system failure?
Q. Whose responsibility is it to maintain the firefighting system?
Q. How is buyer responsible for firefighting sprinkler failure? Can someone play football with it?
Q. Why has Supertech kept the firefighting pipes open & scattered inside the apartments where the only option for a homebuyer is to get it covered with a false ceiling or façade?
Q. Who will be responsible for any future mishap in the housing society that lacks the mandatory firefighting system in place?
Q. Doesn’t the law of natural justice demand that Supertech compensate the homebuyer’s damage to the property?
These questions are now in the public domain since an arrogant builder, Supertech has, as usual, dared to not respond to the media queries.
However, the residents of the society are getting restless. As more and more homebuyers gathered together to put pressure on the builder and asking for compensation to a fellow neighbour of the housing society, the officials of Supertech invited them for a meeting.
The meeting was more of intimidation to the homebuyers than any honest intent to settle the issue. Track2Realty has a sting audio recording of the meeting between the homebuyers and Supertech officials where the management did not take the onus of fault upon them. They first tried to intimidate the residents, even calling themselves too senior and powerful to grant time for the meeting, and then put the blame on the contractor of the project.
The contractor was then pressurized to commit to compensate the damage to the homebuyer. Under duress, the contractor agreed to compensate over there but then refused to honour his commitments immediately after the meeting.
The issue, however, is much larger. It is not just one case of a victim homebuyer asking for his due compensation that is being denied by the builder. It is a question of safety and security of human lives. The homebuyers of Supertech Eco Village 1 are still not convinced with the proper functioning of firefighting alarm and sprinkler. The builder as usual is trying the level best to silence the homebuyers.
The Greater Noida Authority and Fire Department is as usual least bothered about this potential threat to human lives. The question is whether they are waiting for another Uphaar Tragedy to wake up and take cognizance and, more importantly, act against the erring builder Supertech?