Every new building that rises above seven floors will have to have a second staircase as an emergency exit.
So far, this rule applied to buildings above 70 metres (more than 17 floors) in height. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently decided to extend the rule to all buildings above seven floors. With increasing floor space index, the city will have more highrises and the BMC wants to ensure they have emergency exits.
“We want to minimise risks. The second staircase is important in emergencies,” said Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare.
The BMC noticed that builders avoid making emergency exits to save costs and got exemptions by paying a premium. Sources said Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya decided not to grant too many exemptions following a rise in the number of Right to Information queries asking for exemptions granted to builders.
“This rule affects the entire project as we have to provide for open spaces and amenities,” said Sunil Mane, managing director, Vignaharta Builders.
Vilas Avachat, chairman, Indian Institute of Architects, said: “If safety is a concern, then rules say buildings above 60 metres in height have to have a helipad, but this is not being enforced.” Tatkare, however, countered this, saying the Navy does not allow helipads atop skyscrapers in the city.