The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has written to the standing committee that hiking fire safety charges won’t affect common Mumbaikars. On June 30, the BMC had tabled a proposal to revise the fire safety standard operating procedures (SOPs) and increase the service fee. After a huge uproar, the committee had stayed the proposal, but the BMC has refused to take it back. It will table it again in the next meeting today (July 7).
Standing committee chairperson Yashwant Jadhav, on Tuesday, said the BMC has written to it clarifying that it will collect charges from real estate developers and not residents. He said the committee is not satisfied with the civic body’s statement. “The proposal has already been stayed and the committee will not approve its implementation,” he told the Free Press Journal.
The BMC had formulated SOPs for fire safety charges back in 2014. However, no charges have been collected ever since. As part of the new resolution, the BMC said there is a deficit of Rs 1,400 crore, which it aims to recover by collecting the pending amount. As per the new proposal, the revised charges will be between Rs 10 and Rs 15 per square metre.
Senior Congress corporator and leader of opposition in the BMC, Ravi Raja has blamed the ruling Shiv Sena for not being able to stop the BMC administration from implementing the SOPs. He told this newspaper that despite being opposed by the standing committee, the administration has refused to take back its proposal. “This shows they don’t take the committee seriously. The ruling party is also unable to make the administration understand the pressure it will create among citizens,” he said.
Vinod Mishra, senior Congress corporator and group leader of the BJP in the BMC, said the civic body has no clarity on the proposal. He said, “We will raise a point of order, after the issue is tabled again on Wednesday. Citizens will have to bear the brunt, if the charges are increased.”
Meanwhile, senior civic officials said it’s necessary to recover the dues, which have been stuck in red tape, as the BMC is facing an unprecedented financial crisis owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The official said, “The BMC has exempted charitable organisations and old-age homes from paying the fees. The amount collected will be used in establishing new fire stations and upgrading fire-fighting logistics.”