Fires scorch Mumbai in monsoon

From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 Mumbai lost more than Rs 16 crore in property damages caused by fire, India Today reports. This figure is a testimony to the fact that the financial capital of the country needs to do a lot more when it comes to compliance and safety of commercial and residential high-rises.

Mumbai has a web of high-rises in the city and suburbs which include both residential and commercial establishments. But two major fire incidents within a span of 24 hours - Churchill Chambers on Sunday and MTNL building on Monday -- have brought back the focus on fire safety in Mumbai high-rises.

RTI details accessed by India Today TV show the city's vulnerability to fire. A close look at the figures for 2018 shows that a total of 4,899 calls were received by the fire department. Out of these 151 calls were received for the high-rises. Shocking as it may be but there were 969 fire calls for residential buildings as well. The commercial establishments too weren't far behind with 386 calls and the slums had a figure of 544 against them.

"Today, there are so many high-rises in the city but the safety aspect is never given importance. Safety audits are not conducted in time and that's the only reason why you have so many complaints from the commercial and residential high-rises," says RTI activist Shakeel Ahmed who's accessed the RTI details.

Interestingly, defective electric circuit was cited as the reason for fire in 3,195 cases. Gas-cylinder leakage caused fire in 111 incidents whereas in 1,593 cases there were other reasons given by the fire department.

These fire incidents take a heavy toll on human life as well -- more than 50 lives were lost in these unfortunate incidences.

Bandra, Dindoshi and Marol areas all reported fires in more than 10 high-rises in 2018. But what's more dangerous is the count of the residential complexes. Following are the places in Mumbai and the corresponding numbers which reported residential fire incidents:

Marol: 133

Dadar: 70

Andheri: 62

Vile Parle: 58

Dharavi: 50

Chembur: 43

Now let's have a look at the commercial establishments. Marol topped the list with 34 incidents; Worli reported 33 whereas Kurla reported 26 cases.

Shocking as it may sound but from 2008 to 2018 Mumbai reported a total of 53,333 cases of fire in which 666 people lost their lives. There have been many incidents since the beginning of 2019 as well but the consolidated official data on the same are still awaited.

Congress leader Ravi Raja says, "People will continue to suffer till there is a proper policy in place on fire safety. Fire-safety audits need to be made compulsory at all costs. Today these audits are conducted only randomly and that's the reason why we have such incidents."

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