People who visit the office of the Regional Transport Authority in the Jayanagar 4th Block complex always have to wait long for the elevator. According to a frequent visitor, though there are two lifts in the complex, only one is functional. People visiting the RTO offices spread across floors are often forced to take the stairs.
The need for regular maintenance of lifts, especially in public buildings, has come under focus after the recent lift accident at Krishi Bhavan in which five persons were injured. While four sustained minor injuries, one woman, a Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) employee, dislocated her right ankle in the accident.
The accident was caused due to overloading, which is not uncommon in public buildings in the city. B.K. Hampagol, retired Deputy Director (Technical), Department of Fire and Emergency Services, told The Hindu that the lack of maintenance and misuse when there is no lift operator are often the reasons for accidents.
He said lifts are essentially equipments with mechanical, electrical and electronic components that are susceptible to wear and tear. “Only regular maintenance can help ascertain the extent of wear and tear,” he said.
Mr. Hampagol warned that summer is the time when lifts particularly need maintenance, since the rise in ambient temperature will cause metals to expand. “All metals have an expansion ratio. This will affect the steel strands in the cable that will have a bearing on calibration. With regular maintenance, this can be prevented,” he said.
While the lift licence is granted by the Karnataka State Electricity Inspectorate (KSEI), the government has also passed the Karnataka Lifts, Escalators and Passenger Conveyors Act, 2012 to put in place stringent rules regarding maintenance to ensure the chances of accidents are minimised. KSEI sources said the rules and regulations for the implementation of the new Act were still being framed.
Many public buildings that house government offices are maintained by the Public Works Department. Some public buildings, such as Public Utility Building and Jayanagar 4th Block complex, are owned by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The maintenance of these buildings is taken up the jurisdictional zonal office.
A senior official from the PWD said more than 150 lifts in various public buildings, including Raj Bhavan, Vidhana Soudha, Vikasa Soudha, Legislators Home and Visvesvaraya Towers, are regularly maintained.
An official said the recently modernised lifts come with special security features to avoid accidents. “The maintenance contract is given to the manufacturers of the lifts. These days, the new lifts come with automatic rescue devices, where in during any power disruption, the lift that is in motion will stop at the nearest floor,” he said.
The official also said the maintenance cost is not more than 4 per cent of installation cost. The annual maintenance is given to the lift manufacturer, as servicing and replacement of worn out parts is easy. “If we give it to a smaller agency or company, there is no assurance that genuine parts are being fitted. That is a risk the government cannot afford to take,” the official added.