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Two-year-old boy’s death in New Town prompts safety advisories

On Wednesday night, Susmit Biswas, was reportedly playing by himself on balcony of their fifth-floor flat when he climbed grill and fell through large gap meant to hold flowerpots

Snehal Sengupta | Published 28.04.23, 07:20 AM
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Representational image

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The New Town authorities will issue a set of advisories for all housing complexes and multi-storeyed buildings on safety measures to be taken in regard to windows, balconies, porches and common areas, officials said.

The decision to issue the guidelines was taken at a meeting of senior officials of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) on Thursday following an accident at a housing complex in the township that resulted in the death of a two-year-old boy.

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On Wednesday night, Susmit Biswas, the child, was reportedly playing by himself on the balcony of their fifth-floor flat when he climbed the grill and fell through a large gap meant to hold flowerpots.

The iron grill of the balcony has large circular gaps to accommodate flowerpots. “The grill is around 3ft high. The child seems to have climbed it and fell through an empty circular gap,” said an officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate.

An NKDA official said the guidelines will have five to six points and be handed to residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) in the next few days.

The guidelines will ask RWAs to ensure child safety locks are installed on windows “wherever possible”.

Flats in many apartment complexes and gated communities in New Town don’t have iron grilles on balconies or windows to keep possible escape routes open in the event of a fire. “We know installation of iron grilles is not mandatory in many buildings. We are urging families with children to install child-proof locks. They should also ensure that a child does not remain unattended,” said an NKDA official.

For porches and other common areas, which include large balconies, the NKDA will ask the RWAs as well as builders of new buildings to ensure that a guardwall of adequate height runs around them.

“Since many of these areas are designed to act as assembly and evacuation zones for the residents during a fire, the guardwalls cannot be made too high. But it is advisable to have a perimeter boundary of an adequate height to prevent anyone from falling down,” the official said.

The authorities will also stress the need for regular maintenance of windows and installation of warning signage in all “exposed” common areas.

“The accident that claimed the life of a two-year-old boy is extremely unfortunate. We will also hold a series of meetings with RWAs on safety issues,” the official said.

Samaresh Das of the New Town Forum and News (NTFN) — a residents’ body in the township — said they will start a campaign on the issue.

“We have held informal meetings with RWAs and asked them to deploy guards in common areas from where there is a risk of falling down,” said Das.

Last updated on 28.04.23, 07:20 AM
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