The firemen who performed the rescue operations at Kemps Corner’s Mont Blanc apartments on Friday may have found it difficult to reach to the spot due to narrow access roads and heavy traffic but it is the lack of awareness amongst the occupants of majority of south Mumbai buildings that is proving the bigger headache.
Most of the buildings located at Chandanwadi, Kalbadevi or Fort are vulnerable to untoward incidents thanks to the arbitrary manner in which electricity wires are tapped, the open power meter boxes, the use of combustible materials like wood (in staircase) in construction and lack of adequate breathing space between two structures, making the buildings vulnerable to incidents of fire.
“It is true that areas like Fort are open to such threats for the aforementioned reasons. The condition of the buildings is such, because of restrictions on their redevelopments or improvements. Many buildings are listed in heritage category. The government should consider a policy like cluster development to solve these issues,” Sanjay Gurav, a Fort-based activist, said.
An occupant of a ground-plus two storey building, Jain Bhavan, in Chandanwadi, said it is the fear of losing their source of revenue that makes unwilling to leave the seemingly dangerous buildings.
Meanwhile, experts said it is the onus of the occupants/tenants to ensure they stay in safe buildings. “South Mumbai is a hub for such issues. But occupants/tenants will have to understand the seriousness of the problem. They must carry out electricity re-wiring after every five years to avoid short circuit like incident. Besides, materials like staircase should be replaced by new non-combustible materials. In addition to this, they must follow instructions given by inspection wing of the fire brigade,” Amarjit Singh Jhandwal, former chief fire officer of BMC, said.
Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said it will be difficult for BMC to reach out to every building in city and it is the occupants who will have to take onus of fire preventive measures. Mhaiskar though said deterring action will be taken if it is brought to notice that occupants are not heeding to safety measures.