BMC: 32,000 fire audits held in one year; activist sceptical

Mumbai: TheBrihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has claimed that it has conducted 32,000inspections in the last one year in different hotels, pubs, restaurants, cinemahall, theatres, commercial buildings, offices, establishments, residentialbuildings and other places, following the Kamala Mills blaze on December 29,2017. But a city-based activist cries foul at these claims.

Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh, a Right To Information (RTI) activistsaid, “In September 2018, the corporation revealed that 5,000 buildingshave been inspected. A debate was also held on a private news channel on thesubject. In just three months, how did they complete inspections of 25,000buildings? It seems the BMC is conjuring up these figures; the data ishypothetical. Moreover, the fire brigade has received approval to recruit 3,807personnel, of which 2,800 have been recruited. The remaining 927 posts arestill vacant. Despite that, they claim to have inspected 32,000 establishments,which is hard to believe.”

The marathon inspection session was conducted on thedirections of BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, after the Kamala Mills fire tragedy, inwhich fourteen people perished. Officials were directed to undertake theinspections along with fire brigade, ward health, anti-encroachment officialsand others. According to the BMC, 32,000 inspections were held, with 17,730establishments being issued notices for non-compliance with fire safetymeasures. In all, 9,407 have been prosecuted for failing to adhere to firesafety norms. Besides this, at 2,107 places, inflammable items were confiscatedafter conducting inspections and raids, 32 places have been sealed and thelicences of18 eateries were revoked.

Activist Shakeel said, “If we go by the fire incidentsreported in December 2018 alone, in a span of just ten days, from December 17to December 27, 22 people have died. A massive fire broke out in the ESICKamgar Hospital at Marol in suburban Andheri and killed eleven people onDecember 17. Similarly, four people died after fire engulfed a garment unit atKandivli on December 25, and now the recent Chembur fire, where five peoplewere killed and other fire mishaps reported in this time. Similarly, last year,from December 18 to December 29, 30 people have died, including the 14 in theKamala Mills blaze, in the Sakinaka fire and other mishaps. These incidentsonly highlight the apathy of the BMC.”

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