Inadequate manpower and inefficient enforcement of law are the main reasons for lift fatalities, say experts.
In 2010, the public works department (PWD) had 16 inspectors to check the 86,000 lifts in the state.
"The number was increased to 74 this year. But even then the existing sanctioned strength is grossly inadequate and needs a 10-fold increase," said Sandeep Jalan, an activist and lawyer.
According to a recently submitted report by a high court committee, of the 74 personnel working as lift inspectors with the PWD, 12 are assistant electrical inspectors and 62 are assistant/sectional/junior engineers (25 positions are still vacant).
While the latter are given a target of 1,200 inspections each year, assistant electrical inspectors have to carry out 150 inspections a year.
According to Jalan, based on the current strength, each inspector will have to carry out as many as 2,328 inspections a year, which would be "practically impossible."
"If the PWD cannot increase the strength, they should consider outsourcing the work. One way or the other, public safety has to be ensured," he said.
Mohammed Afzal, a social activist who had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking greater safety for lifts in the state in 2010, said there were 240 lift maintenance contractors registered with the PWD to carry out elevator maintenance and refurbishing old lifts. However, there are several illegal elements operating without any dissuasion from the police or the PWD.
"There are hundreds of lifts being maintained by contractors whose licences have not been renewed. Currently, there are 10 to 12 contractors with expired licences, but they are still functioning. The PWD urgently needs to conduct an audit," he said.
Afzal said it was a criminal offence for the contractor to carry out maintenance without a licence. "It is a very serious crime on part of the managing committee to give a contract to a company that does not hold a valid lift licence," he said.