The NMMC Fire Brigade neither has nor have plans to have any fire vehicle to reach towers of height 90 meters and above, yet Kesar Group and Swaraj Builders and Developers have been granted permission to build towers of over 90 meters that could prove to be dangerous to the lives of citizens who buy homes in these towers. Monika Bhosale visited NMMC to get the details. Fire safety violations in towers in Navi Mumbai have always been a concern. At a time when the NMMC Fire Dept. has accepted that there are fire safety norms being violated in the towers of the city, the NMMC has gone ahead and given permission to two builders to erect towers of over 90 meters. M/s Swaraj Builders and Developers have been granted commencement certificate to erect 91.5 meters tower in Sector 14, Koperkhairane while M/s Kesar Group has been granted approval to erect 92.5 meters towers in Sector 19, Sanpada. NMMC Asst. Director of Town Planning Sanjay Banait explained that they grant commencement certificate to any projects only after the fire dept. give their NOC. With plans of an International Airport for Navi Mumbai, it has also been mandatory that if the radius of the proposed tower is above 85 meters, then a NOC from the Union Civil Aviation is a must but these towers do not have that NOC either. The reason for worry is that if at all any fire was reported above 70 meters in any of these towers then a disaster could happen. This is because the NMMC will not have any sky lift to go above 70 meters and even the one that can reach 70 meters is yet to arrive at the NMMC Fire Brigade. The proposal to buy a Bronto Sky Lift of Volvo Company that can reach up to 70 meters with an aerial ladder platform was tabled in the Standing Committee meeting of February 2008 and is expected to be delivered by March 2010. Weighing 38 tonnes the sky lift will cost Rs. 90 Crores. Not just this, even NMMC’s own Development Control Rules state that the speed of the sky lift shall be such that it should reach the top floor from ground level within a minute or 91.5 meters in a minute, whichever is less. Hence, in the absence of such a sky lift, the 91.5 meters long towers will stand to violate the development control rules. This means even if the Bronto arrives, it will not be able to cater to the height of the towers in case of any fire in the floors above 70 meters. When we met the Deputy Fire Brigade Officer of NMMC Prabhakar Gade he claimed that the 70 meter ladder was enough and gave lame justifications for issuing NOC to the towers. According to experts, in Navi Mumbai none of the permissions are given considering the criteria or factors to High rise buildings, calling it the Licence Permit Raj. One of the experts, Shiv Shankaran added that if the authorities do a surprise visit to these construction sites, then they will definitely find that the fire safety norms are grossly violated. He added that the high rise buildings are a threat to safety as fire brigade equipments are inadequate with no trained employees. Calling the construction of the city as anarchy, he said that an audit committee should be set up. If cases of recent fire incidences in Thane and Mumbai are taken into account, then a disaster awaits the home buyers who prefer such high towers. With power crisis and water scarcity looming in the state, the residents of these high rise buildings are bound to suffer more and only alertness of buyers can save them from buying homes from such projects being built by the Kesar Group and Swaraj Builders and Developers that could spell disaster and hazard to the lives of the occupants in case of fire. With bureau inputs, Monika Bhosale for NMTV News.
August 24, 2008
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