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    Published On : Thu, Aug 30th, 2018

    Empress Mall’s illegal use of generators is just tip of iceberg

    Nagpur: Empress Mall, which remains in the eye of storm quite often, is currently under the cloud of its illegal use of generators after the MSEDCL snapped power supply to the mall for non-payment of electricity bills.

    As the matter reached the court of law the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court has now formed a panel to check out for the glitch. The panel comprising MSEDCL chief engineer, PWD inspector, and chief controller of explosives inspection officer will visit the premises and verify the petitioner’s claims about threat to the entire structure due to use of diesel generators.

    A division bench comprising justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Murlidhar Giratkar directed the panel to submit report by September 5. The court was hearing a PIL by social workers Chandu Lade and Rakesh Naidu through Vivek Bharadwaj, alleging that Empress Mall promoters had failed to comply with norms of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Central Ground Water Board, Bombay Shop and Establishment Act, labour Act, and Provident Fund.

    Earlier, NMC assistant director visited the mall area along with the petitioners who filed an affidavit in the court. Then it was found that KSL and Industries, the mall owners, were illegally using generators. They found five electrical generators along with five diesel storage tanks of 1,000 litre capacity in the basement, which makes the building a fire hazard and unapproachable in times of emergency. Even the fire exit staircase is only from fourth floor to the basement, making the construction illegal and fire prone.

    When the mall’s electricity bills were checked, it was discovered that they were only paying for power on Plots No 1, 2 and 5. The petitioners accused KSL of stealing electricity, by using generator without required license, and further transmitting and distributing it to shopkeepers at a high premium, causing a loss of crores to the exchequer.

    They further accused the mall owners of illegal constructions in the basement, where 6640.15 sq metre area is used for purposes other than parking, by enclosing a portion on all four sides with a wall. This has led to traffic snarls due to inadequate parking space. Same point was mentioned in the inspection report by ACP Traffic on August 4, 2013. The petitioners further pointed out that all floors of the mall are used for commercial purposes and showrooms instead of AC plants.

    KSL completely undermined the fire safety rules, making the building a potential danger in case of a fire, said the PIL. The owners also evaded question over 44 encroachments and kiosks at the entrance and exit of the lobby, even after repeated directives by the civic body for their removal. Instead, KSL filed appeals which have been time and again granted stay and relief.

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