No relaxation should be given in any provision of Development Control Plan and Regulations 2034 (DCPR) for buildings for public use as they may undermine "Right to Life" of the citizens.
This was one of the suggestions given to the four-member committee, headed by former Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Pravin Pradeshi, which is set up to prepare a report on the implementation of the 2009 draft Fire Safety Rules and Regulations for buildings and structures vulnerable to man-made disasters.
The committee was set up pursuant to Bombay High Court order while hearing a public interest litigation by advocate Abha Singh seeking directions to the government for the issuance of the final notification on the Special Regulations for buildings vulnerable to man-made disasters in the DCPR 2034.
The committee held its first meeting last week where Singh submitted her recommendations. Singh and her advocate Aditya Pratap submitted that large number of relaxations of given by Municipal Commissioner by invoking the discretionary powers. This in turn undermines the “Right to Life” of general public. “This is how, in Mumbai, in small plots, where there can be just a bungalow of 2 or 3 floors, a building of the height of 30 to 40 floors are coming up,” reads the suggestions.
Singh said that present Mumbai DCPR of 2034 severely compromise the open spaces in buildings which make them potent fire hazards. Further the Municipal Commissioner grants “abnormally massive concessions and relaxations” due to which fire engines cannot even enter the buildings.
In addition, the advocate pointed out that the DCPR of 2034 completely overlooked the strict stipulations contained in the National Building Code of India (NBCI). Part 4 of the NBCI pertains to fire safety measures in Buildings while Part 3 pertains to DC Regulations. “Therefore the special regulations for protection of buildings from fire and terrorist attacks should strictly incorporate the same from NBCI,” said Pratap adding that there was a glaring need to give full effect to the provisions contained in the NBCI.
Further, before OC (Occupancy Certificate) is granted to under-construction buildings, there should be a live video inspection by physically bringing a fire tender inside the building premises and seeing if there is sufficient space to manoeuvre it inside. The entire process should be video recorded and if the building fails this test, OC should be refused, argued Pratap.
No relaxation should be given in any provision of DCR in case of building for public use as they may undermine “Right to Life” of citizens.
National Building Code of India should be implemented by all government and private schools.
Actual drills with fire tenders and other emergency vehicles be conducted to check if the open spaces and other fire control systems are functional.
All buildings which are not in accordance with the Regulations, even if they bear the stamp of approval by certain officers of the BMC be made subject to partial or complete demolition.
Chief Fire Officer, while giving NOC ought to certify that the NOC is in accordance with the building provisions of the DCR and Greater Mumbai of 1991 and that of 2034.
BMC commissioner should give a detailed speaking order, after hearing all the parties and stakeholders, whenever he relaxes provision/s of the Regulations.
A system of accountability be established to curb corruption.
The committee comprises of Pardeshi, ex-director of Town Planning Department NR Shinde, practicing engineer from Architect and Town Planners Association Sandeep Isore and the BMC's Chief engineer, development planning.
Reference points for the Committee
The committee has to finalise the Rules and regulations for fire safety and man-made disasters
The committee has been tasked with modifying the rules as per the unified DCPR. It has been asked on what basis would the rules be applied and measures for its surveillance.
Also, it has to suggest measures to protect buildings from bomb blasts and measures to evacuate people from buildings in case of emergencies.
Besides, the committee has to recommend steps to apply the unified DCPR to the existing buildings.
The PIL was filed in 2019. Due to lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic, the PIL had not come up for hearing. In 2021, following a spate of fires in high-rises in the city, Singh’s advocate, Aditya Pratap, mentioned the PIL for urgent hearing. The regulations were issued in 2009 in the aftermath of 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.