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Exclusive: Lives of 5000 students in danger due to major fire risk; BMC turns blind eye

Despite a complaint filed regarding major fire risk at Habib Esmail Education Trust, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not taken strict actions against the violation of fire safety norms.

Exclusive: Lives of 5000 students in danger due to major fire risk; BMC turns blind eye

The lives of nearly 5,000 students studying at Habib Esmail Education Trust is in danger due to the violation of fire safety norms. Despite a complaint filed regarding major fire risk, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has turned a blind eye to the illegal activities. A restaurant is being run on the terrace of the educational institute. The trust runs a school and college at the upper floors of the building and with the unauthorised cooking which is being carried out using LPG cylinder in an open space on the ground floor, the nightmare of fire break out can become a reality. 

In sheer violation of the law, there is also a smoking zone on the terrace of the building. As per the Anti-smoking law in India, smoking is prohibited in schools and colleges and the sale of tobacco products is not allowed within 100 meters of any educational institute. A complaint has been filed with the Mumbai Fire Brigade regarding the major fire risk. Mumbai Live is in possession of the soft copy of the complaint which states that cooking is being carried out using LPG cylinder in the open space on the ground floor. 

According to the complaint, there is an illegal construction of monsoon sheds around the building on the ground floor which causes difficulty for students to move swiftly. The monsoon sheds (including poles, frames, and sheets) have been constructed with the help of Galvanised Iron (G.I.) which posses a greater risk of electrocution while endangering the lives of students. Moreover, along with the storage of catering articles, the installation of two water tanks contributes to hinderance. 

The permission for the construction of monsoon sheds on the ground floor around the building was granted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) which is valid up to October 30, 2019. 

The seating arrangement has been made on the terrace along with the construction of an office cabin followed by pantry and washrooms. However, there are no official documents to support the construction of the same. 

The entire terrace of the building has been turned into a sports turf which is used for carrying out sports activities by ‘Kesar Baug Trust’. The complaint mentions that the sports turf is illegally constructed by using G.I. poles which are netted from all sides. Due to this, the terrace can’t be used to assemble students during any fire-incident or other emergencies. 

In order to carry out cooking activities, the requirement of No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued by the CFO department is mandatory. However, the complaint statesthe absence of the same. Also, the eatable items were stored in the open space on the ground floor. Of the six entrances or exits to the building, four were found to be locked. 

Furthermore, the installation of mobile towers on the terrace can cause health issues for the students as the upper floors of the building are used for school and college by Habib Esmail Education Trust where nearly 5,000 students study. 

The fire incidents in Mumbai are quite frequent and so are the fire-related deaths. Mumbai’s population in proportion to its area is huge and this makes it important for the people and the authorities to take great measures in order to avoid any man-made disaster. According to media reports, the city has witnessed more than 3,500 fire-related incidents which have killed 43 people in the year 2018 alone while there have been over 49,000 fire incidents in the past decade killing more than 600 people.

In December 2017, the Kamla Mill fire which broke out at mid-night which killed at least 14 people and leaving several injured shook everyone in the city while raising concerns for security norms. It took more than three hours for the fire department to control the fire. Another unfortunate fire incident at a coaching centre in Surat recently took the lives of 22 students and left several injured. 

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