NMTV’s Fire Safety Initiative has taken up the issue of towers on Palm Beach Road. We started with these prominent high rises to showcase how fire safety norms are being taken way too lightly by both NMMC and builders in the city. An issue that revolves around the life and death of citizens – as we continuously make attempts to take up the issue, the impact of the initiative is being seen. Officials in NMMC and builders continue to evade our questions but sources from NMMC Town Planning Office and Fire Dept. confirmed that builders are in fact rushing to NMMC to get their final NOCs from the NMMC fire dept. It happened in Thane and it could well happen here. The Thane fire incident expose was an eye opener. Forget victims, the firemen could not save themselves but did we learn anything from it at all? When this question came to our mind looking at the manner in which towers are dotting the city’s map, NMTV started its “Fire Safety Initiative”. We first reported on the tallest towers of the city with one of them being developed by Kesar Group on Palm Beach Road known as Kesar Solitaire. We took the fire safety concerns we raised with NMMC and the builder Ashwin Gogari who assured us that fire safety equipments will be provided by them in their tower and the Fire Safety Law would be abided. NMMC CHIEF FIRE OFFICER’S CONFESSION “BRONTO SKYLIFT IS USELESS” When we took up the issue of violations in city towers with NMMC Fire Dept., Chief Fire Officer Vijay Rane organized a demonstration exclusively for NMTV News at Seawoods Estate NRI Complex Phase II. However instead of proving that they were trained and skilled, the mock demonstration ended up endorsing public fears that the NMMC Fire Dept. was ill equipped and did not have the skills and training to tackle cases of fire. The most shocking expose of the demonstration was not the complete system failure we witnessed but the Chief Fire Officer Vijay Rane’s confession that it was impossible for them to use the much hyped Bronto Skylift in the case of fire in towers. This exposes that NMMC might have spent Crores to buy the Bronto Skylift but utility wise it is useless. “FIRE SAFETY VIOLATIONS IN TOWERS POSES AN ALARMING SITUATION” – ADMIT PALM BEACH RESIDENTS NMTV then met the Palm Beach Residents Association and discussed the worrisome scenario of violations of all fire safety norms in High Rises on Palm Beach Road. The association admitted that the situation is alarming, that builders don’t care and the time to check the implementation of the Fire Safety Law 2006 in high rises on Palm Beach Road has come. Jai Prakash – the General Secretary of the Association who is also a resident of a high tower on Palm Beach said that builder’s never care about anything once they get their money for the property sold. The General Secretary of Palm Beach Residents’ Welfare Association admitted that the situation was alarming for the residents living in high rises on Palm Beach Road. NEW TREND OF ISSUING FRAUD AND MEANINGLESS CONDITIONAL FIRE NOCs FAVOURING BUILDERS NMMC not only made a mockery of its own Occupancy Certificate but also the an issue revolving around the lives and deaths of cities ay too lightly – nothing else explains the fraud and meaningless system of issuing conditional NOCs, says social activist Sandeep Thakur. VIOLATION OF FIRE SAFETY LAW 2006 : CORRUPT BUILDER – BUREAUCRATIC NEXUS? As we continued to raise the concerns of Fire Safety, one after the other the skeletons continued to come out of the box in the case of the fire safety violations in the high rises on Palm Beach Road. That is why most significant question we raised was – “Is the corrupt builder – bureaucratic nexus putting the lives of residents in danger on Palm Beach Road?” No points for guessing the NMMC Fire Dept. officials refused to answer this question while BANM’s President Bhupendra Shah claimed that there is no nexus. However, social activist Sandeep Thakur begged to differ. “FIRE SAFETY LAW VIOLATORS WILL BE IMPRISONED” – WARNS DIRECTOR OF STATE FIRE SERVICES DEPARTMENT M V DESHMUKH We also raised the issue of fire safety violations with the man in charge of fire services and emergencies in Maharashtra State – M V Deshmukh. Speaking about how stringent the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006 is, M V Deshmukh said that builders or others who violate fire safety norms will be imprisoned. BUILDERS RUSH TO NMMC TO GET “FINAL FIRE NOC” Call it the impact of back to back NMTV’s Fire Safety Initiative reports that builders of all towers on Palm Beach Road are running to NMMC to get their final fire NOC. Reliable sources from NMMC administration reveal that only after we started our initiative, BANM’s President Bhupendra Shah – who has three projects on Palm Beach Road – met NMMC Commissioner Vijay Nahata on behalf of the builders of towers on Palm Beach Road. Soon after, files were submitted at NMMC Fire Dept to get their final NOC. These sources allege that builders managed to get back dated Final Fire NOCs from NMMC. While many towers have already got the final fire NOC some are expected to get it in the coming week. Builders of towers on Palm Beach Road that we contacted like Mohan Gurnani of Palm Paradise and Sunil Tharwani of Tharwani Heights kept giving reasons for not speaking to us and it didn’t come as a surprise that NMMC’s Chief Fire Officer Vijay Rane too refused to speak to us on this latest development. NMTV’s Fire Safety Initiative has ensured that builders of towers on Palm Beach Road rush to get their final fire NOCs but looking at the corrupt system – there is still no guarantee that lives and property of residents living in towers is any safer than it was before. NMMC might wake up to the gravity of fire in towers only after a Thane like disaster happens or let’s get real – we are talking about the dead conscience of officials so may be not even after that. We say it’s only up to the residents to check the actual implementation of fire safety norms because they alone will become victims of the corrupt builder – officials’ nexus that plagues the implementation of Fire Safety Law 2006 in Navi Mumbai. Sana Warsia – NMTV News.
May 9, 2015