‘BMC should have implemented rules’

Mumbai: The fire that claimed four lives and injured 21 could have been avoided if the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Fire Department had ensured that the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006 was implemented.

The Act specifies the type of fire installations, water supply requirement in litres and pump capacity for every kind of building occupancy. Section 3 of the Act talks about the owners’ or occupiers’ liability to provide for fire prevention and life-safety measures and maintain them.

Prof. Sharmila Ghuge, who filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court in 2014 said, if only the BMC and Fire Department took responsibility instead of passing it on to builders and developers, four lives could have been saved. She said, the PIL points out that the Fire Prevention Act, Bombay Development Control Regulations, 1991; Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 and Fire Brigade rules are not complied with by builders and societies of high-rise buildings. The last hearing on the PIL took place on March 8, 2016, when the court directed the BMC to submit an affidavit on whether fire safety audits were conducted regularly in the city. The matter has not come up in court since.

On February 27, 2009, the Maharashtra government released the Draft Special Regulations for Buildings Vulnerable to Man Made Disaster. Under these regulations, buildings have to comply with the National Building Code of India, 2005, that relates to fire prevention and life- safety measures that are binding under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act.

In March 2018, advocate Abha Singh filed a PIL highlighting that no action has been taken and urged the issue of a final notification with respect to these regulations. The PIL will be heard on August 23 before a division bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and M.S. Karnik.

Crystal Tower did not have an occupation certificate. Without it, the builder should not have given possession to purchasers. The builder will now be charged with Section 13 (offences by promoters and consequences on conviction) and relevant sections of Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act which attract imprisonment or fine or both. Provisions of the BMC Act will also be applied along with charges of cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 3:54:06 PM |

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