Mumbai: Notices to 29 shopping malls for violating fire norms

Mumbai: Following an inspection of all malls across the city, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has issued notices under Form J (for deficiencies found in regards to fire safety measures) to 29 malls. According to the Chief Fire Officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade, these 29 malls were found only "partially compliant" with the fire safety norms since their reopening after the lockdown.

The 29 malls that have been issued the J form include the City Centre Mall, the CR2 Mall (Nariman Point), the Nakshatra Mall (Dadar), the Suburbia Mall (Bandra west), the Thakur Shopping Mall (Kandivli), the Haiko Mall (Powai) and the Dreams The Mall (Bhandup).

In the aftermath of a massive blaze that gutted hundreds of shops/ units at Orchid City Center Mall in Nagpada on October 23, which took 56 hours for the firefighters to douse, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) had ordered an inspection and fire audit of all malls across the city.

Nearly 250 firefighters and 228 water tankers were deployed to extinguish the blaze and bring the situation under control. Six firefighters had sustained minor injuries and were suffocated during the fire-fighting operations, one of the longest of its kind.

In the course of this process, the fire brigade personnel found that the fire-fighting system at the mall was dysfunctional and there were double the number of shops and units than had been permitted.

"The BMC had sanctioned 344 galas/ units in the City Centre Mall gutted in a fire last month, but it was found that the mall had 1,344 galas where material stored, including cans/gallons of sanitisers, was well above the capacity of these units. Despite these illegalities, the Mumbai Fire Brigade found the mall to be compliant/ partially compliant. This also applies to other malls," said Ravi Raja, Congress corporator and Leader of Opposition in the BMC.

Fire safety compliance once again came under civic glare after this incident and there were blazing scenes at the BMC general body and standing committee meetings.

In a report submitted before the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee, the MFB said, “From January 2019, an inspection of several malls, hotels and commercial establishments were done. During this course, 12,743 hotels and establishments were inspected, after which fire compliance action was taken against 7,278 establishments.” Further, it said, regular inspections by a joint compliance team of the BMC and the MFB had issued several notices for non-compliance.

To ensure fire safety compliance, the fire department conducts timely inspections, issues notices for non-compliance and stipulates a time period within which occupiers or developers must comply with the rules. If they do not, they are prosecuted in court. In the last two years, 11,765 gas cylinders had been confiscated for illegal use, the MFB informed.

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