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Updated: October 6, 2013 23:56 IST

Lift crashes, cause of phobia among many

Chitra V. Ramani
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‘Use of second-hand lifts, one of the reasons for accidents’

These days, Parvathamma (name changed), a helper at an apartment building in Malleswaram, knows better than to take the lift to her workplace. Understandable as she not too long ago was stuck for more than an hour in the lift that stopped between two floors.

“It was the longest hour of my life! The security guard and another person literally lifted me out. I have since not used the lift,” she said.

She is one among many who seem to be afflicted by ‘lift phobia’, a new condition given the frequency of accidents involving lifts in the city. Recently, nine blood donors were injured when the lift in a research laboratory crashed to the ground from the third floor at Kodigehalli.

According to Ravikiran Gurram, a software engineer, who lost his 66-year-old father-in-law in a lift accident in November 2008, most buildings use second-hand lifts. This, he maintained, was one of the major reasons for the increase in accidents involving lifts.

He said most multi-storeyed buildings in the city have lifts.

The demand for lifts has also increased exponentially and major lift companies have a waiting list. “Most small builders, who cannot afford to wait for long, use second-hand lifts. The companies selling and installing these lifts lack technical know-how,” he said.

Mr. Gurram said the Karnataka State Electricity Inspectorate (KSEI) is the sole authority that can issue erection permission and running licences to builders to install and operate lifts in their buildings. Since the Karnataka Lifts Act, 1974, was weak, punishment was not stringent for those violating it.

Rishabh Sinha (name changed), who lives in an apartment on Bannerghatta Road, said that since the lift was installed in his building, it had not been maintained properly. “With rough handling of the lift and no maintenance, it is an accident waiting to happen.”

Sources in KSEI told The Hindu that they have issued licences for more than 25,240 lifts in the city. While underscoring the importance of regular, annual maintenance, sources claimed that periodic surprise checks are conducted by KSEI. “We issue notices in cases where lifts do not have licence. Once the private property owner or association takes corrective measures, KSEI regularises the lifts,” the source said.

Though rules prescribe replacement of lifts that are over 10 years old, many building owners and associations ignore it, endangering lives of people using them. Taking cognisance of the lack of any stringent rules in place, the government passed the Karnataka Lifts, Escalators and Passenger Conveyers Act, 2012. Sources said rules are still being framed to implement the new Act.

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