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Over 4.5K towers aren’t fire safe

None of the high-rises inspected by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) over the last two years was found to have adhered to fire safety norms. They only complied after legal notices were sent to them.As per the data accessed by DNA, the MFB inspected 4647 buildings over the last couple of years — residential and commercial – and all of them were found without fire safety compliance. They have issued notices under Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act 2006 and given 120 days to comply with the fire safety norms. After the warning, 4637 toed the line, while 10 buildings are now being prosecuted as per law.Two incidents of fire are fresh in minds of Mumbaikars – the Bhanu Farsan shop fire in Saki Naka which claimed 12; and Monday’s fire on the 17thfloor of a high-rise at Walkeshwar, the Legend Tower. Bhanu Farsan shop was not fire-safety compliant, while the fire at Legend Tower was easily controlled as the building had functioning fire safety installations.Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale said, “Residents are not serious about fire safety and only install fire safety equipment after we send notices. It is out of fear of prosecution and not safety concerns.” “During inspection, we found that buildings flout basic safety norms such as encroachment on common passage, doors to staircases are closed, water from fire tank is used for domestic purposes,” said a senior MFB officer.Turn to “Some buildings do not have designated entry and exit gates, and while many buildings have firefighting equipment, it is not in working conditions. There will be a faulty or missing knob, rusted pipes or just an inability to operate the equipment,” he added However, residents feel that the Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade fail to create awareness about fire safety and are lenient while granting permissions. Nita Bajpai, general Secretary of Juhu-Vile Parle Residents Association said, “It is true that most residents do not take fire safety seriously, but it also the work of the Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade to create awareness through campaigns. Buildings should have fire-fighting installations and do regular servicing to keep it operational. It also cannot be rejected that authorities sanction building permissions when the locality does not provide sufficient space for fire brigade in case of emergency.”

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BMC blames socio-economic problems for Andheri farsan shop fire

A day after 12 people were charred in a fire at an illegal condiment factory in Sakinaka, the civic body on Tuesday tried to shrug off its responsibility by attributing the tragedy to a combination of several issues.Political pressure, court cases and government failure in checking illegal supply of electricity and gas cylinders for commercial purposes the hurdles that it faces in controlling unauthorised businesses in the city, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.”It is a socio-economic problem that people come to Mumbai to do odd jobs. The workers who died on Monday were from north India,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Bharat Marathe. The Bhanu condiment factory on Khairani Road was too small to operate as a factory and accommodate 20 people, said Marathe, the in-charge of civic affairs for the area.And the issues span across Mumbai, he said. “It is a reality that 60 percent of the city have the same scenario.” Regular inspections and strict action are the need of the hour, he said.Vote-bank politics undo all the efforts of the civic body, said a BMC official, who did not wish to be named. “We are under immense political pressure to not take action in slums. It is only after court orders that we can do something.” He said only a handful of politicians allow the BMC to do its work in good faith.Resource crunch is another impediment, said the second official. “We lack staff in sanitary inspections, factory and licence departments. One person can inspect maximum 20 shops per day but in Mumbai depending on the area ranging from 60 to 200 illegal small scale businesses come up every day. Many a times we don’t even come to know that some businesses start and even closes after few months. Even if we take the owner to court, high court penalises him sometimes with just Rs 500 and the illegal business continues”, he said.BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who has written to the BMC chief after Monday’s tragedy, said he has demanded inspection at all condiment factories in Mumbai. “It may be true that some politicians don’t allow BMC action, but it is not important at the moment. We have to look forward that such incidences should not occur and innocent should not lose their lives”.

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Lantana weed provides livelihood for tribals of Melghat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tribal youth from Melghat have now been trained to prepare craft and furniture items out of Lantana camara, a type of forest weed. This is a significant boost, not only for the tribals, but also for the forest department since Lantana camara (referred to as Raimuniya in Hindi) is a weed menace for forest land and does not allow local grass species to regenerate.Lantana camara is spreading fast in central India, resulting in drastically reducing the availability of grass in the forest. It has also affected the fodder availability, thereby contributing to the livestock management crisis in central India. Every year, the state forest department undertakes a drive to eradicate the lantana on a mass scale.To that end, Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA), in collaboration with Satpuda Foundation (SF) organised a workshop for tribal youth. The local tribal have been trained to use the same lantana to prepare craft and furniture for self-employment. President of Satpuda Foundation Kishor Rithe said that the first batch for training session started on October 2 at NCSA’s Muthwa community centre with the financial assistance of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Around 31 participants from Nanduri, Raksha, Bori, Kotha and Chunkhadi have been trained.Somaji Jamunkar and Bhanu Raju Jamunkar, both from Chunkhadi village situated in the core of Melghat Tiger Reserve have five acres of agriculture land each who trained in the first batch. Their first crop — soybean and jawar — was wiped out due to the rains. So Somaji and Bhanu hoped that the train would help them with a alternative livelihood. Similarly, Priya Sundarlal Mawaskar and Neeta Chironjilal Dhande from Nanduri village told felt that this would be a more comfortable mode of livelihood rather than hard labour.Nishikant Kale, President of Nature Conservation Society added that it was due to the initiative by Satpuda Foundation trainers Jaisingh Dhurve and Fagulal from Matkuli, Pachamarhi that the workshop was a success.District Collector Abhijit Bangar and CCF (Wildlife) Sreenivasa Reddy also visited the training camp. Rithe said that furniture making has previously proved to be successful in Pench Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra as well as Madhya Pradesh and Satpuda Tiger Reserve in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The experiment has provided permanent employment to around 78 families in the Satpuda Tiger Reserve.

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