Maharashtra govt woke up only after court order: HC on fire safety rules and regulations

The Maharashtra government did not take any step and woke up only after the court issued an order, the Bombay High Court censured it on Friday, after it was informed that the notification for fire safety rules and regulations would be issued by May 2024.

The high court earlier this week came down heavily on the state government for dragging its feet on the implementation of fire safety rules and regulations despite a report submitted by an expert committee in February this year.

The court had sought to know from the Principal Secretary of the State Urban Development Department a timeline by when the notification would be issued.

On Friday, additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan submitted to a division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor that by May 2024 the mandated procedure would be completed and the final notification would be issued.

The bench, while accepting this statement, remarked that had the government acted on the committee’s report in February itself, then the regulations would have been issued by now.

“After the recommendation was made by the committee, the government did not take any step and did nothing. Only after the court ordered, you (government) woke up,” the bench said.

The court directed for the timeline to be strictly followed.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Abha Singh in 2019 seeking enforcement of the 2009 draft special rules and regulations for fire safety in buildings vulnerable to man-made disasters.

The draft regulations were issued in 2009 in the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

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The court on Friday also directed the petitioner to implead Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner and its Chief Fire Officer.

The court directed the BMC and the chief fire officer to file an affidavit giving details of measures taken to meet the exigencies of fire incidents in the city.

“The affidavit shall also give details of the standard operating procedure and the response time to reach the spot where the fire has broken out,” the court said.

The bench also sought to know how many fire stations were there in Mumbai and the manpower deployed.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on January 30, 2024.

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