The Bombay high court on Monday directed the BMC and fire officials to submit an affidavit in court and inform it if there were any rules for fire safety audits and if authorities, while conducting such audits, follow them.
The division bench headed by Justice Abhay S. Oka passed this order while hearing the PIL filed by Dr Professor Sharmila Ghuge seeking directions for the concerned authorities to implement the provisions of ‘The Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006’ and various other allied provisions of law and guidelines issued in the matter.
The contention of petitioner is that many high-rise buildings are constructed without following the guidelines laid down for fire safety and due to this many innocent lives have been lost in fire accidents. She has requested the court to direct authorities to take action against the owners and occupiers of high-rise buildings who do not follow the mandatory fire safety norms and misuse or do not provide refuge areas in the prescribed manner.
Prataprao Bhosale, the divisional fire officer, filed a reply on the petition on Monday, opposing the admission of this PIL for hearing. He contended that as per section 3(1) of the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, it is the liability of the owner or occupier to provide fire prevention and life safety measures in the building.
“However, for randomly ascertaining the sufficiency or contravention of fire prevention and life safety measures in the buildings, the Mumbai fire brigade has nominated 80 fire officers of various ranks from the existing officers cadres to carry out inspection of various types of buildings,” read the affidavit filed by Mr Bhosale.
The affidavit further said that so far 3,895 buildings in the city and 3,301 buildings in the suburbs have been inspected by fire officers and notices have been issued to 4,812 buildings for non-compliance of fire safety laws, while legal action has been taken against 11 other buildings.
The officer also said that the deficiencies observed during inspection are brought to the notice of owners and occupiers and notices are served to them for compliance of the same within the stipulated time period and those who do not comply with the same are prosecuted as per the law.more….