Even as incidents of people are getting trapped or killed in faulty elevators are being reported, the state government, in an affidavit before the high court, said that “details about inspection and maintenance of lifts are not available for public consumption on any of its websites”.
The affidavit, filed three months ago when the Bombay High Court was hearing a public interest litigation highlighting the issue, also said that it was difficult to inspect lifts with the existing staff strength.
As per the document, eight people have been killed and four others injured because of faulty lifts this year.
On Sunday, seven-year-old Asif Khan died after being stuck in the elevator of his Mira Road building. According to the police, the boy had just stepped into the elevator, when it started moving and his leg got stuck in the automatic door. The elevator got stuck between the ground and first floors.
“We plan to make the information about the number of lifts and the licence available on the website of the Maharashtra government in six months and for that we are collecting the data,” said ST Valekar, chief engineer (electrical), public works department (PWD).
As mentioned in the affidavit, the current number of personnel in the PWD (electrical), which is in charge of inspecting and maintaining lifts in the state, is 50. The sanctioned number is 76 for the 86,000-78,550 lifts in Maharashtra.
“The maintenance of lifts is mandatory 12 times a year and is the responsibility of the society’s managing committee and lift contractors,” added Valekar.
The Bombay Lift Act has been in place since 1939 but there has been no change or modification since then.
“The Act is 71 years old and situations have changed in all these years,” said Mohammed Afzad, one of the petitioners.
Activists feel that it is the not just the government but also the responsibility of the manufacturers and contractors to maintain elevators.
“We have asked to fix criminal negligence against the managing committee or contractors or both in case of fatal accidents. It will put them under pressure to be responsible,” said Sandeep Jalan, another petitioner.