Mumbai Mirror Interviews Mr Rajnikant Lad | January 2017



“The increasing demand for elevators and escalators is estimated at 20 per cent, annually, in Mumbai. The sad part is that despite lift sales booming, there exist only ‘recommended’ safety standards and not ‘mandatory’ standards. Mumbai still relies on the archaic Bombay Lifts Act, 1958. Every lift should be checked twice in a year by the government agencies, but this is rarely done physically, although it is shown on paper,” laments Sharma.
Advocate Vinod Sampat says it should go beyond legal issues. “It is a matter of safety. Human lives are at stake,”

he says. “The residents and the managing committees of residential housing societies should not neglect their responsibilities. Currently, the trend is that the cheapest contractor gets the maintenance job. This needs to change,” he insists. Sharma points out that inspection of lifts is done by the Public Works Department of the state government. In Mumbai, there are less than 50 PWD engineers and there are more than 40,000 lifts. This acute manpower shortage makes it impossible to check every lift in this sprawling city, he adds.

Sampat points out further anomalies. In case of accidents, the manufacturer also doubles up as an ‘investigator’ along with the government agency. So, it is very rare that one finds a lift manufacturer being prosecuted, he explains. “At best, the sufferer goes to the consumer court, to claim compensation for damages caused and the courts already have a huge back­log. Even if the litigant succeeds, the manufacturer usually gets away with paying a fine and his culpability does not result in criminal action against him,” he elaborates.

Lifts that are either manufactured by or maintained by the ‘unorganised’ sector, are the ones in which
maximum problems occur, says Borivli­based architect, Vilas Bagul. “If a little­known company has quoted a lower amount than the recognised players, for a lift with similar specifications, one can safely assume that there might be more than the usual share of troubles for residents while using that lift,” he points out.

Why do lifts turn into safety hazards? ­ Mumbai Mirror
However, residents often remain unawares, until they ask the society’s committee members about the agency servicing the lift, he says.

According to Sharma, it is the lack of awareness, disregard for safety precautions and overcrowding of the lifts, which commonly result in accidents. “Members often do not know whom to contact in case of an emergency. Ideally, the maintenance service contract should be given to the manufacturer, but in most societies, the committee members hire the cheapest contractors, to save some money. These contractors hardly have the technical skills and the experienced manpower to do regular maintenance, leave alone handling disasters,” he points out.

Elevator safety expert, Rajnikant Lad maintains that lifts do not cause accidents. “Improper maintenance and incorrect use are the root cause of accidents, 99 per cent of the time,” he explains. “A lift has in­built safety measures. But, if users are not aware of the same, or do not ensure regular maintenance, then, the safety measures cannot be put to optimum use, when required and this, along with improper use, leads to incidents that can sometimes be fatal,” he points out.

Sharma points out that in some cases, society office bearers make money through overpriced maintenance contracts and hand over the job to their favourites, without doing a background check on their capacity and capability to service the equipment. In such cases, the members should hold the society responsible for the
losses caused to men and material in case of accidents and lift tragedies, he suggests.

Lad concludes, by saying that if the users are made aware of the safety-related issues and facts and they adopt the required means to keep themselves safe while using the lift, we can have a situation where no more fatal elevator accidents would occur.


Mr  Rajnikant Lad

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