It will be impossible to complete inspections of 85,000 lifts in the state before the March 31, 2013 deadline prescribed by the Bombay high court, say experts.
The Bombay high court recently relaxed norms asking the Public Works Department (PWD) to inspect all lifts across Maharashtra once a year, as opposed to the previous rule of twice a year and directed the department to complete inspections for the current year before March 31, 2013.
“Completing the prescribed inspections is not possible as only 13,000 of the 85,000 lifts have been inspected so far. The sanctioned strength of 74 electrical engineers working as lift inspectors with the PWD is inadequate,” said Mohammed Afzal, a social activist.
As per the PWD, till 2010, there were about 86,164 lifts operating in Maharashtra. Around 5,000 to 6,000 lifts are added every year.
Afzal had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking greater safety for lifts in the state in 2010. He said that if each lift, according to the previously existing law, is to be examined twice every year, there should be 1,72,328 inspections in a year. However, in 2011, only 12,291 inspections were carried out across the state, which is less than 8%.
“The highest number of inspections carried out by the state government is 22,813 in 2009. But even then, only about 13% of the required inspections were carried out,” added Afzal.
In mid-August, the state government informed the court that it was considering amending the Bombay Lifts Act, 1939 to reduce lift inspections to once a year. According to a committee report, only eight states in the country have a fixed frequency for inspections. Gujarat outsources lift inspections every six months and the government carries it out once in three years.
“It is not about reducing the state government’s burden, but about ensuring public safety. Reducing the number of inspections every year won’t reduce the number of elevator-related accidents,” said Afzal.
Meanwhile, PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal refused to comment on meeting the high court deadline. "I don't have the necessary information at hand to comment on the issue.” He however, added that the department could have staff shortage to meet the deadline.