South Delhi Open Air Restoration Plan Remains Indoors As Fire Law Confusion Strikes Politics | Latest Delhi News
New Delhi: The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) launched its outdoor dining policy for restaurants under the jurisdiction of the civic body in September last year. However, to date, the company has issued just 69 licenses – with just 12 establishments having obtained the licenses in the past four months.
Civic body officials familiar with the case said the policy had not taken off at the expected pace due to confusion over the fire safety certificate provision.
A senior official from the civic body’s public health department explained that a fire safety certificate is mandatory for all establishments requesting outdoor dining spaces. Although most of them were able to obtain the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the restaurants on the ground floor, the space on the open terrace remains a point. friction.
Restaurant owners have said the DFS does not issue a compliance notice for open decks, and the fire department said the SDMC should obtain a third-party safety rules audit for decks because they do not have enough staff to carry out inspections.
“The NOC fire is a prerequisite for obtaining an outdoor catering license and the owners are not able to obtain it, so very few potential licensees contact us. The Delhi Fire Department asked them to make arrangements such as water sprinklers, stairs, garden hoses, etc. So far, licenses have mainly been issued to establishments located on the ground floor, ”said the head of the SDMC.
Representatives of the National Restaurant Association of India said the policy should be changed to resolve confusion over fire conditions for terraces.
Sandeep Anand Goyle, a member of the management committee of the National Restaurant Association of India, said several meetings had taken place between DFS, industry representatives and SDMC officials to resolve the issue. “This is a technical flaw in the policy. The DFS tells us that there are no plans to issue a fire compliance notice for open spaces, although SDMC has made it a prerequisite. Either the policy needs to be revised or the civic body can adopt the firefighters’ suggestion that existing fire NOCs can be extended to adjacent open spaces under certain conditions, like 25% vacant space, two stairs, etc. ” , he added.
Goyle said it was not clear who of the two departments would take responsibility for issuing the clearance.
The Delhi Fire Department, in a letter to SDMC’s municipal health officer, suggested that the application of the guidelines be verified by the municipality. “At a joint meeting in March 2021, DFS representatives said they had limited staff and were unable to issue notices of compliance to terraces for which inspections by third parties could be carried out, ”said an SDMC official.
In response to SDMC’s request that DFS should continue to issue patio fire advisories, the director of DFS said in a letter dated March 11, 2021 that the safety guidelines should be verified by SDMC and that no further notice is required from the department.
DFS director Atul Garg said the open-air dining policy had been brought up for their review. “We told the company that our inspection should not be made mandatory. Establishments that have taken NOC for the covered part can extend the same safety conditions such as the regulation of equipment and stairs to the open space as well. Why should the firefighters visit them again, ”Garg said.
The breakdown by zone of outdoor catering licenses shows that 29 were granted in the Najafgarh zone, 27 in the South zone and 10 in the Center zone. The smallest number of these establishments are under the West Zone where three of these open-air restaurants are currently operational.
An SDMC official said that some of the areas and establishments where outdoor dining licenses have been issued are located in places such as Aerocity, India Habitat Center, Aurobindo Marg, outlets in Kapashera, Dwarka, Rajouri garden, Hauz Khas and Green Park.
Goyle said: “The concept of outdoor dining policy is good and the industry has been pushing for it for 15 years.”
According to the policy approved in September of last year, alfresco dining is only allowed in restaurants with a health trade license and where there is an open space such as a roof which is a private property. Recently, the North and East Company also adopted a similar policy.
The policy states that there should be no encroachment on public lands, trails or roadsides. No cooking is allowed in an open space and a liquor license is required to serve alcoholic beverages in open spaces, officials said. Structural safety certificates from a Certified Engineer and Fire NOC of Delhi Fire Services are required. The fees for this license vary from Rs100-200 per m².
Before the pandemic hit last year, South Delhi had 2,000 large and small restaurants.