On a day when over 100 people died in a fire tragedy inside Kerala’s Puttingal Devi complex, senior civic officials in Mumbai admitted that a majority of the temples in the city were not ready to fight a fire.
In fact, according to fire officials, temples in the city are not even subjected to safety audits as these are apparently outside the ambit of the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2009.
“Most of the temples are ground-plus-one structures. The fire safety provisions under the Act are not applicable to them,” a senior fire official told The Indian Express.
Another official confirmed that most of the temples being old, they had come up without obtaining a no-objection certificate from the fire brigade, which validates the fire preparedness and the disaster preparedness of other structures in the city.
Chief Fire Officer P Rahangdale said, “For those coming up now, we ensure certain provisions in the Act, including open spaces around the built-up space, fire safety equipment, and other measures, are in place.”
He added, “Temples such as Siddhivinayak and Mahalaxmi, which attract several devotees, have been asked to keep fire extinguishers inside the premises for fire safety. We have also trained the volunteers at these temples to take care of things in case of emergency.”
According to official statistics, there are close to 2,000 shrines, including some illegal ones, in Mumbai.
Narendra Rane, chairman of Siddhivinayak Temple Trust, however, said all fire safety precautions were taken by the temple. “We don’t allow firecrackers inside the temple premises. And whenever we organise big events, we normally take permissions from the all the government agencies. We also have the permission to cook, with conditions which we adhere to,” he said.more..