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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

A year on, no fire audit for heritage structures

Vaishnavi Vasudevan , Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 04, 2013
First Published: 08:37 IST(4/7/2013) | Last Updated: 08:58 IST(4/7/2013)

Last year, after a major fire broke out in Mantralaya, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) decided to carry out fire audits in important heritage structures that house government organisations.

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But it seems the audit is being conducted at a slow pace.

“We formed a four-member sub-committee to conduct fire audits and look at fire protection status of heritage structures.

The committee is in the process of auditing buildings and a report of the audit will be submitted soon,” said V Ranganathan, chairman, MHCC.

However, the MHCC has no data of the number of heritage structures that have been audited in last 7-8 months since the sub-committee was formed.

The committee includes fire advisors to the state, chief fire officer and electrical engineers.

The Exchange building located in South Bombay’s Ballard Estate is an old European-style structure that houses all central and state government offices.

All buildings at Ballard Estate are listed in the proposed heritage list. Ideally, a year after the decision to conduct the audit was taken by the authorities, the committee should have audited most of the important government structures.

The four-storey building that caught fire on the third floor had only one entrance.

There were no fire exits and the rear of the gate was jammed. Old buildings are at a heightened risk of fire because they were built at a time when there were no mandatory fire regulations.

It also poses a risk due to dilapidated structural frames, redundant wiring techniques and the fact that they often house highly flammable materials.

Some of the important heritage buildings that were to be audited are Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, BMC headquarters, city collector’s office, Bombay high court, and the general post office, among others.

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