Millennium Post

Crying for a lift

Gone are the days when lifts were not considered necessary and people preferred to climb stairs, irrespective of all odds. Rapid change in life-style in Delhi-NCR, including physical and mental apathy and the high-rise culture in building construction have made lifts essential. However, many flat-owners generally forget to cross-check on the essentials of their own buildings lift, forgetting that their families stay in such buildings and are using the ill-maintained and risky lifts.

The recent incidents of malfunctioning of lifts in high rise buildings reveal the sordid state of affairs. Maintenance of lifts are being ignored by putting lives of innocent people at risk. Technical experts claim that rise in incidents of malfunctioning of lifts have been occurring because of ignoring technical aspects as well as safety norms.

As per the norms, maintenance of lifts must be ensured by its manufacturer. But in recent past it has been observed that the builders outsource this work to third parties. Since, such companies have no expertise, they fail to ensure safety measures.

‘Lifts should be maintained by the company which manufactures and installs it in the building. The builders, with the motive to save money, authorise inefficient bodies to maintain those lifts, which is
a blunder on their part,’ says Manoj Kumar, a Noida based technical expert.

Several lift accidents have taken place in the NCR region as norms for installing the lifts are ignored. Experts advise that the emphasis must be on how old the lift is.

 ‘Generally, once a lift is installed, building owners or concerned authority never bother to replace it, though it is necessary to replace the old one with new one after 14 years period which is the maximum life period for any type of lift. Replacement of spares and accessories is also necessary after a certain period. 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,’ says Rajeev Bhalla of Kaushambi, whose housing welfare association recently got their both the two decade old lifts replaced.

 Recently, trapping of eleven children in a lift reflected poor maintenance of infrastructure by the authorities. The children, aged between seven to eleven years, were trapped in a lift in a tower of Gulmohar Garden in Rajnagar area of Ghaziabad. The incident took place when the victims were coming down from the lift. The children were rescued after the residents broke down the lift as neither the maintenance head nor any rescue team reached the spot. Incidents on a similar pattern had also taken place in the national capital, Noida, Ghaziabad, and other parts earlier but the authorities are yet to address the issue.

Talking about necessary measures while installing a lift, experts claim that lift should be fitted with an over-load device, which must function when more passengers are inside the lift. This means that the lift should not start till the load is within the weight-bearing capacity. The capacity of lift should be displayed on a plate inside the lift. Apart from this, fire extinguisher, exhaust fan, alarm button, and shrill hooters are mandatory. Photocopy of the lift license must be displayed inside the lift-cabin. ‘Safety criteria must not be ignored while installing the lift. Generally, builders avoid them to reduce expenses but it is the duty of concerned authorities and flat owners to check upon all these things,’ says the expert.

The government’s apathy towards this issue also adds to the woes as 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. The 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 and hapless citizens, more so when the media has documented several incidents of falling Lifts, leading to human life casualties.

Despite 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. The competent authorities are apprehensively interested in conducting limited and 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.The authorities would wake-up and sensitise themselves to the people they serve and make appropriate stringent amendments to the Lift Act, but it would unfortunately happen only after scores of major causalities would have been documented.

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