Using its newly acquired powers, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has decided to prosecute 42 premises for violation of safety norms, such as non-functioning fire-fighting equipment.
The fire department, as part of its ongoing inspection of buildings across the city, has sent 42 cases to the civic legal department.
It has requested the legal department to file cases against the errant owners in the small causes courts.
The Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2009, has given the fire brigade more teeth.
The law mandates that if the fire brigade department finds that any building — residential or commercial — has not adhered to any of the safety norms, it can issue a notice to the owner asking him to undertake immediate corrective measures.
“If they fail to undertake the necessary correction within the stipulated period of 120 days, then a legal case has to filed against them,” said a senior
fire brigade officer, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
Under this Act, defaulters face a penalty ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh and can also face imprisonment for six months to three years.
The department’s defaulters list includes Om Heera Panna Mall at Oshiwara, Sussex Industrial Estate at Byculla and Crawford Market in south Mumbai.
It had taken the firemen nine hours to douse the blaze that broke out in the basement of the Oshiwara mall in May because the building did not have fire safety equipment.
Till date, the fire brigade department has issued notices to more than 160 owners for violation of safety norms.
The new law also mandates that the chief fire officer or any accredited official conduct audits twice a year.
However, the law also differentiates between structures depending on how many people reside in or work in the building.
“There is hesitation among the public to comply to fire safety norms. Through this Act, we are trying to bring out a higher rate of voluntary compliance,” explained Uday Tatkare, chief fire officer.
In extreme cases, the department can also discontinue electricity and water supply to the premises.