NMC’s Fire Department declares Empress Mall as ‘unsafe’ building

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Mar 2018 10:00:54


Staff Reporter,

Taking a tough stance against the unauthorised construction in Empress Mall and failure to obtain fire fitness certificate, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s Fire Department has declared Empress Mall as unsafe building from fire safety point of view asking its occupants to vacate the same without any delay. The Fire department has also asked the SNDL to snap power supply of the mall and OCW to discontinue water supply. The Dhantoli Zone has also issued a notice to Mall to remove its unauthorised construction to the tune of 14693.78 sq mt charging with excessive construction from basement to third floor.
The information was furnished before the High Court on Tuesday during the hearing of a PIL filed by Chandu Lade and Rakesh Naidu against alleged illegality in construction of Empress Mall.

M/s KSL Industries-the mall developer, while pointing out that mall was not using water supplied by NMC and had obtained fire fitness certificate claimed that even the unauthorised construction alleged by petitioners was well within norms and already a revised map was under consideration.

According to respondent, even the tax figures and water cess figures were highly inflated and mostly consists of fine and interest amount while pointing out that his appeal was already pending before the appropriate authority. The respondent-developer also questioned clubbing of all petitions and claimed that he had substantive right to pursue legal remedies against orders passed by respondent authorities.

According to the petitioners who placed report on record, basement, ground floor and third floor of the Mall is equipped with all fire prevention and life safety measures, however the report is conveniently silent about first second and fourth floor. Even this fire certificate has expired long back, the petitioner claimed while accusing NMC with protecting the mall developer.

The PIL has claimed that the mall is presently running without a fire fitness certificate and the Nagpur Municipal corporation has already issued a notice dated September 21, 2016 u/s. 8(1) of the Maharashtra Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, thereby declaring the said shopping mall as unsafe for public and has even directed it’s occupants to vacate the same. Similarly, NMC had also rejected the application for fire fitness certificate of the Empress mall by order dated August 18, 2016, thereby directing the Empress mall to file fresh sanction map and obtain fresh fire recommendation from it for availing fresh fire fitness certificate.

Last week, the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had informed the legislative council that action would be taken against KSL and Industries Limited for unauthorized constructions and usage of sanctioned space at Empress Mall.

A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice M G Giratkar while adjourning the matter indicated that since the co-ordinated bench had already passed substantive orders, it would be appropriate that the same bench conduct the subsequent hearing. The matter has now been posted for hearing on April 3 with connected matters.
During last hearing, the High Court had directed clubbing of all petitions when the petitioner pointed out that respondent-developer had obtained stay to demolition, recovery of water cess due to which NMC authorities were merely issuing paper notices.

The developer had asserted his legal right to pursue all available remedies while stating that civic body had wrongly assessed the tax liability and calculated unauthorised construction on the basis of a faulty interpretation of rules without considering his revised plan.
Adv Vivek Bharadwaj appeared for the petitioners. Senior Counsel S K Mishra, Adv Kaustubh Deogade represented the mall developer while Adv Sudhir Puranik held the brief for NMC.