Date: 24th February, 2014
HEMANT AGARWAL's Analysis on:
ILLEGAL LIFTS IN BUILDING:
LIFTS INSTALLATIONS IN SOCIETIES:
01. Self-Sensitising, towards requirement of Lift-Elevator.
a) Till about 20 years ago, most residential buildings in Mumbai, were upto Ground plus 3 or 4 storied buildings, wherein LIFT (Elevator) was not installed, since at that time it was not considered necessary and people preferred to climb stairs, irrespective of all odds. Consequent to the Life-Style changes, including physical and mental apathy, currently the Four storey building residents have started to feel the need for having a Lift-Elevator in their buildings.
b) Now with the advent of newer building technologies, High-Rise buildings are constructed, which, presently, go even beyond 50 storey's (Floors), which in turn made it, an lawfully essential requirement (service), to have an Lift-Elevator in such High-Rise buildings. This in turn, obviously also meant higher maintenance costs for the Lifts (AMC & Spares), besides being liable for the consistently increasing Electricity charges and additionally also for the present Service Tax @ 12.36%, on such Lift Maintenance Costs & Society Service Charges.
c) Several Lift Accidents /Incidents, involving casualty to human life, has already been recorded by the News Papers, more specifically in Mumbai and Pune. Ignorant and Innocent Flat-Owners, read such published news, and impulsively forget to cross-check their own buildings Lift, apathically forgetting that their families stay in such buildings and are using the ill-maintained and risky Lifts.
d) IF the Lift-Elevator is maintained properly with periodic replacement of spares and accessories, .AND. IF the Lift is used in a sensible manner, THEN the cost of maintaining the Lift is not exorbitant, ALSO more so when compared to the invaluable single life, that we and our families have, .AND. further more so, when compared to the broken bones and invalid lives we shall be forced to live, due to the falling Lifts.
INSTALLING NEW LIFT IN NON-LIFT BUILDINGS:
02. Non-Lift buildings, can install Lift-Elevator, in their buildings, subject to compliance of various legal parameters. FEW basic requirements are as follows:
a) New Lifts are allowed to be installed ONLY on those legal-buildings, which have duly approved and sanctioned plans.
b) New Lift installation permissions are granted ONLY to those legal-buildings, who have duly been granted "Occupancy Certificate" (means "OC").
c) Due Prior NOC is required from the Fire Dept.
d) Buildings Structural Stability Report, by a duly registered Structural Engineer.
e) Latest Drawings, from an registered Architect, proposing Lift-Installation location, in conjuction with the sanctioned buildings plans.
f) Prior permission to erect new Lift and consequent Lift License is to be obtained from the "Inspector of Lifts"
PRIVATE PURPOSE LIFT-ELEVATOR:
03. It is perfectly legal to have a separate "Private Lift-Elevator", installed for specific Private usage (including residential), subject to compliance of various legal parameters.
a) The law provides for installation of Private Lifts, for Hospitals, Clinics, Commercial Offices, that may be lawfully operating from a Residential Building. Private Lift, also can be installed, for specific floors and/or specific residences, subject to the sanctioned building plans.
b) The Society and its members, would have no legal-say, to refuse or object, to such installations of separate "Private Lift-Elevator". However all necessary compliances under the Development Control Rules, Lift Act, MMC Act and the MRTP Act, would have to be complied.
BASIC LEGAL SAFETY CRITERIA FOR LIFT-ELEVATOR:
04. The Lift-Owner (Society) should ensure the following:
a) Lift Maintenance (AMC) vendors, should be mandatorily licensed and appropriately experienced.
b) Lift should be fitted with an “Over-Load device”, which should mandatorily function when more weight (passengers) are inside the lift. This means that the Lift should not start, “TILL” the Lift load is within the weight-bearing capacity. The mandatory and specificatory requirements of the "Lift Load", should be printed /engraved on a metal plate, and permanently rivetted (affixed) inside the Lift-Cabin Walls.
c) Fire Extinguisher, inside the Lift is mandatory
d) Alarm Button/Switch, inside the Lift is mandatory, with shrill hooters on every floor, and compusorily in the Security Personnels Cabin /Desk.
e) Multiple Emergency Lights inside the Lift cabin, connected to alternate power-system (batteries, solar, wind .... )
f) Overhead-Exhaust system .OR. Side-Exhaust system, is mandatory. The Exhaust (Fan) system, could be fitted with auto on-off system.
g) Permanently affixing a laminated photocopy of the "Lift Licence", which should be mandatorily displayed, inside the Lift-Cabin Walls.
h) The entire Lift-System, should be duly insured, for all parameters (i.e. Fire, Accidents, Incidents, Damages ....).
i) Various other parameters, as prescribed under the various applicable Laws.
MH GOVT. APATHY ON LIFT ACT:
05. The prosecution component of the Lift Act, remains static and ineffective and rarely implementable, for over 70 years, which in turn means that the Lift-Owners (Societies), can continue their apathy towards the lives of the Lift-Users (Society members).
a) The Lift Act provides negligible prosecution modalities, for unlicensed Lifts and ill-maintained Lifts, and unlicensed Lift AMC Vendors, which indirectly portrays the gross apathy, towards the affected & hapless Citizens, more so when the media has documented several incidents of falling Lifts, leading to Human Life casualties.
b) INSPITE of collecting License Fees, Inspection Fees, the Lift Act, is not sensitised for the value of Human Life, and also for the foreseen incidents and accidents, due to the illegal /unlicensed Lifts and ill-maintained Lifts and the unlicensed Lift AMC Vendors
c) The Competent Authorities, apprehensively are interested in conducting limited & routine checks, obviously with the intention of collecting "Inspection Fees", more so in the light of the fact, that prosecution is rarely initiated against the Lift-Owners, for failure to comply with the Lift Inspection Report.
d) Anticipatively, the MH Govt., would wake-up in future and sensitise itself to its people .AND. make appropriate stringent amendments to the Lift Act, BUT only AFTER scores of major casualities, to human lives, have been documented.
PUNISHMENT FOR ILL-MAINTAINED LIFT:
06. The Legal Punishment system has provisions for:
a) Non-Maintenance of Lift, is a fine'able offence, under the Lift Act. Such Fine, if levied & paid, is recoverable from the personal pocket of the Society's Mg.Committee (more specifically, the Secretary)
b) Accidents or Incidents, arising out of non-maintenance of Lifts, to Life & Property, is a Criminal Offence, which would lead upto imprisonment, of buildings care-takers (means the Mg.Committee).
c) Non-Maintenance of Lift, is a within the parameters of deliberate "Negligence & Deficiency", under the Consumer Protection Laws, leading to levy of heavy to heavy damages and compensations to the aggrieved complainant. This again is obviously recoverable from the personal pocket of the Society's Mg.Committee (more specifically the Secretary).
d) Members of the Society's Mg.Committee, can be collectively prosecuted with Fine and/or Imprisonment under the Indian Penal Code, for endangering human life, due to Negligence in maintaining the Lift.
LIFT USAGE TIMINGS:
07. Lift-Elevator, is a deemed essential service, having safety implications on Life & Property.
a) ALL the building-residents, are entitled to use the Lift, on a 24 X 7 X 365 basis
b) Lift-Elevator, usage timings CANNOT be restricted, by the Society, irrespective of the decision of the majority residents (members) of the Building. This would also mean criminally restraining and restricting the Lift-User, when in light of Health Emergencies, Work Emergencies, Fire and other Safety issues.
c) Deliberately Stopping or Restricting the for usage of Lift, can be prosecutable under the Criminal Acts and the Consumer Protection Act.
d) The Coop. Society's Bye-Laws, have a illegal & nuisance clause of authorising the Society Mg.Committee, vide a General Body resolution, to restrict the usage timings of the Buildings Lift. This is without lawful jurisdiction. The Society and its Secretary can be lawfully prosecuted, depending on the inclination of the Flat-Owner, residing on the higher floors.
LIFT USAGE CHARGES:
08. The Lift-Owner (Society) is liable to collect charges for Lift-Usage.
a) The building residents (Society members), are liable, by legal default, to pay equalised Service Charges, for “usage” of the Lift, irrespective of usage or non-usage of the Lift.
b) The building residents (Society members), are liable, by legal default, to pay equalised share, for “replacement” of the Lift, Spares and other accessories, irrespective of usage or non-usage of the Lift.
c) Charging varying "Lift Charges", floor-wise to the buildings residents, is illegal and discrimination.
d) Life Usage charges, CANNOT be recovered from various vendors (Milk'wala, Vegetable'wala, Courier'wala, Pizza'wala, Postman, Newspaper'wala and so on ....)
WHO CAN USE THE LIFT-ELEVATOR:
09. Each and Every, person residing /visiting the building, is lawfully entitled to use the Lift, without any restrictions, whatsoever.
a) It is no excuse, in legal terms, to restrict (stop) anybody from using the Lift, irrespective of who-so-ever it may be. A Owner-Member, a L&L Tenant, Servants, miscellaneous Service Vendors (like (Milk'man, Courier'boy, Postman, and so on ....), ALL are entitled to use the Lift, without reference to any rules & regulations, framed or formulated or decided by the Society.
b) The flat-owner (member) has an inherent right, by legal default, to use the Lift, on a 24 X 7 X 365 basis, without any reference to any Society outstanding defaulter dues. This lawfully means, that a defaulter member CANNOT be restrained or restricted from using the Lift Services.
c) Consequent to some Judgements of the Hon. Consumer Courts, "Pet Dogs" are by legal default, entitled to usage the buildings Lift-Elevator, that too without any extra charges.
d) Usage if Lift, is not dependent on user charges.
FAILURE TO MAINTAIN LIFT-ELEVATOR MEANS:
10. Under the Law, the Lift has to be compulsorily maintained.
a) The Building-Owner (or Care-Taker, eg. Mg.Committee of the Society), can be prosecuted, with Fine under the Lift Act, for non-maintenance of the Lift. The Fine, though negligble, shall be imposed on and payable by the Society, which subsequently is to be duly recovered from the personal pocket of the Society Secretary, due to the parameters u/s 73(1AB) of the MCS Act.
b) ADDITIONALLY, The Builder Owner or Secretary, becomes liable for prosecution, leading to payment of compensation /damages, under the Consumer Protection Act.
c) ALONGWITH above, duly applicable Criminal prosecution can be filed, under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, in the local Magistrates Court, leading to Fine and/or Imprisonment, for various periods.
d) The Building "OC" maybe revoked by the BMC authorities, leading to consequent various expenditure, which in turn means all consequent losses caused to the building (Society), can be lawfully and successfully recovered from the personal pockets of the Society's Mg.Committee, due to the varioius legal parametes of the Maharashtra Coop. Societies Act & Rules, therein.
e) It is no-excuse and is immaterial, under the law, to say that the Society General Body, has not approved funds for Lift AMC, or for Lift spares, parts and accessories.
f) It is also no-excuse and is immaterial, under the law, to say that the Society does not have funds to Maintain the buildings Lift.
g) Society CANNOT claim Insurance, in the event of non-usability or damages to the Lift, due to any reason, whatsoever.
h) Lower re-sale value of Flats, in ill-maintained building Lifts.
i) Flat owner-member may also file a private case in the respective MRTP Courts, against the Inspector of Lifts, and the area Municipal Commissioner and the Society, praying for compliance directions or imposing Fine on the Society, for failure to Maintain or Replace the Lift (as applicable).
BASIC CHECK-LIST for LIFT MAINTENANCE:
11. Anybody (Owner or Non-Owner), can initiate suo-motto action.
a) Write a requisition notice to the "Inspector of Lifts", every first week of January and of July of every year, directing him to depute his officer to cause "visit and inspection" of the buildings Lift.
b) Preserve the Inspection-Fee receipt, alongwith the "Inspection Report", for future references and statistics.
c) Lift AMC vendor, should be directed to comply with the deficiences of the "Inspection Report"
d) "Compliance Report", MUST be taken "ONLY" from the licensed Lift AMC vendor. Consequently, photocopy of this "Compliance Report", MUST be submitted to the "Inspector of Lifts", under due acknoledgement.
e) Lift AMC vendor, should be directed to clean and fumigate the Lift-Well and the Lift-Motor room, and also lubricate all moving parts and accessories of the Lift system, practically every month end. This is besides conducting all routine check-ups, as mandated under the Act.
f) Lift AMC vendor. should record ALL his Maintenance activities in a Lift Maintenance Log-Book. Such Log-Book entries should be read and approved in every monthly Mg.Committee meetings. Summary of such Lift Maintenance Log-Book, should be reflected in the Annual Mg.Coommittee Working Report, which should be duly ratified in the General Body Meetings of the Society. General Members are entitled to copies of the "Lift Maintenance Log-Book".
g) Lift-Motor room, should NOT be kept key-locked. It is a violation of the Fire Act & Rules
h) Buildings Terrace, should NOT be kept key-locked, since it is classified as "common open space". It is a violation of the Fire Act & Rules.
i) NOTHING should be stored in the Lift-Motor-Room, to the exception of essentials & accessories, required for Lift maintenance.
j) Multiple Fire-Extinguishers and Sand-Buckets should be installed, OUTSIDE the Lift-Motor-Room .AND. inside the Lift-Motor-Room.
k) Simply replace entire Electrical wiring, of the entire Lift System, upto the main-line, atleast ONCE in every Five years, which means substantial savings in Electricity and enhancing life-span and safety of the Lift syetem. This means: PAY MORE = FEEL BETTER.
l) Intall Lifts, preferably with Automatic closing doors, instead of manual closing doors. Automatic closing doors, are perfect, from safety point of view.
m) Not cleaning the Lift-Well and Lift-Motor Room and the Lift-cabin, would qualify as a prosecutable "nuisance" under the BMC laws, and as well as the Consumer laws.
COMPLAINTS TO LIFT-INSPECTOR:
12. For safety of all concerned
a) A private individual Flat-Owner (say a Society member), may make a written complaint to the Inspector of Lifts (PWD), making a detailed complaint on the various deficiencies in the buildings lift, which could be a cause of risk to Life and Property, of the residents of the building.
b) The Inspector of Lifts, is mandatorily bound by Law, to cause due Inpection of the buildings Lift-Elevator system, consequent to which he MUST issue directions to the building owner (say Society), for rectification of the various deficicenes.
c) IF the Inspector of Lifts, fails to cause inspection, on a due complaint, then the Inspector of Lifts, may be prosecuted under "The Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfer and Prevention of Delay in discharge of Official duties Act, 2005"
d) Subject to some parameters, Criminal Prosecution can also be filed against the Inspector of Lifts, for failure to enforce the various parameters of the Lift Act.
e) Subject to some parameters, the Fire Dept., make revoke the buildings "OC", for non-compliance of the various parameters of the Lift Act & Rules, therein.
f) Revocation of the buildings "OC" would also mean that Water-Charges will be levied at double the normal rates. AND no permission can be granted by the BMC, for any future changes, including installation of Mobile Tower Attenna, Hoardings, any "change of user" and so on ....
g) The inspection of a Lift and submission of Inspection Report, in lieu of "Inspection Fees", is classified as a "Administrative Function". Hence, the Lift-Inspector, can be liable, for Criminal prosecution, for failure to conduct proper inspection of the Lifts, .AND. additionally also liable under the Consumer Laws, for deficiency & failure to conduct proper inspection of Lifts
PROJECTIVE REASONS FOR LIFT ACCIDENTS:
13. The Lift being a Electro-Mechanical unit, needs technical expertise.
a) Contrary to unusual perceptions that the buildings Lift, will work life-long, the Lift of a Building hardly has a tentative life-span of around 10 odd years. This is contrary, vis-a-vis the MH Govt., directives to replace the Lift, every 20th year.
b) Lift Accidents, tend to happen, chiefly because of lack of appropriate maintenance and failure to timely replace necessary Lift parts & Spares. This is typically due to the penny-pinching attitude of the Society members.
c) Over-loading the Lift, with passengers and carrying construction material, during internal renovation and repairs, by the Society residents.
d) Deliberately /Apathically refusing to install Safety devices.
e) Arrogantly and Aggressively, yanking open the Lift Doors, during Lift-in-Motion.
POSSIBLE SAFETY SPECIFICATION OF THE LIFT:
14. Though not classified or mandatory, think to:
a) Avoid installing Metal collapsible-shutters, .OR. full Metal-sandwich doors, on Lifts. INSTEAD use Fire-Resistant See-Thru Fiber-Glass doors, with extroverted 90 degree positioned air vents.
b) Install bi-yearly replaceable, Fire-Extinguishers inside the Lift Cabin
c) Install IR-CCTV camera inside the Lift Cabin, with specific stand-alone monitor with the Security personnel, to check on user-Safety and further which would also serve to check nuisance-users.
d) Install two-way Intercom system embedded on the panel board of the Lift Cabin.
e) Install Alarm-switch with Shrill-Hooters, on each individual floors and inside the Security personnels Cabin.
f) Install "Power Back-up Generator", to be activated automatically, in case of Main Power failure.
g) Replace entire Lift system, with the latest Lift-System, atleast every 15th year, by using the Society's "Sinking Fund and Repair Fund", with prior-approval of the Society's General Body, AND without any reference to the Cooperative Registrar. Loans from Financial Instutitions (like Coop. Bank etc....) can be availed for installing New Lifts, by a Society, under certain parameters.
h) Install a Power-Isolator system, specifically for the entire Lift-system, to avoid tripping of the Main-line, and consequently activating the "Power Back-up Generator".
i) Avoid Spilling of Oil, Water, Mercury and any other inflammable liquids on the floor of Lift's Cabin. Look-out for nefarious people (nuisance users), who deliberately urinate, defecate and spit Paan'juice inside the Lift cabin.
WHAT TO DO, “IF” THE LIFT FALLS DOWN:
15. Since the Govt. Authorities .OR. the Lift Inspector will not be around to help you, DO take some Prudent action, by :
a) Immediately Switch off the Power-Supply to the Lift System.
b) Try to Ply Open the Lift-Elevator doors
c) Pull out the Passengers and lay them flat on the ground. Do not give them Water
d) Firstly, Call for an Ambulance
e) Secondly, Call the Fire Brigade
f) Thirdly, Call the Police Control room number on "100", and seek emergency help, about the incident.
g) Fourthly, and subsequently IF you are a prudent citizen, THEN lodge a FIR with the local Police Station, about the incident (criminal accident), in the larger interest of the Public (means your family members and other co-residents)
h) Subsequent to the FIR, IF the police dept., does not inveestigate and file Charge-Sheet, THEN file private Criminal complaint at the local Magistrates court, against all concerned and negligent persons, which includes the Society Secretary, the Lift AMC vendor and others.
i) In private buildings, and in normal circumstances, the Govt., does not provide any help, relief or compensation, for Human life casualities, and as usual, victims have to fend for themselves.
INTROSPECT: IF you do not take suo-motto care of your Lifts, THEN you are in Moral-Abetment, in the Lift-Falling incident (criminal accident). Next time, you /family may be inside the falling Lift.
Special Thanks to Social Activist Shri Afzal Mohammed, for filing "Public Interest Litigation" (PIL) before the Hon. High Court, in Mumbai, on "Lift Safety Issues", in the larger interest and safety of the Public.
AUTHOR: Hemant Agarwal
Date: 24th February, 2014