Mumbai’s high-rises will soon have to pay a ‘fire safety fee’, which will be about 3 per cent of your property tax bill. The money raised will partially fund the modernisation of the city’s fire brigade.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation sources said the fee will be between Rs 15 and Rs 45 per square metre, depending on various factors like height, age, and type of the building.
Authorities hope to raise Rs 25 crore annually. Some 35,000 buildings in the city that are taller than 25 metres (roughly eight floors) will qualify as high-rises. The fire brigade is currently equipped to fight fire up to 60 metres (roughly 20 floors.)
The BMC, which spends Rs 150 crore annually on the modernisation of the fire brigade, currently generates only Rs 80 crore via various streams of revenue. Authorities hope the fire safety fee will help the civic body bridge this difference.
“Though the Mumbai fire brigade is efficient and well-equipped, the many new sky scrapers that have come up and those that are being built pose a challenge,” said SS Shinde, joint municipal commissioner. “We need a lot of funds to buy new and better equipment to face this challenge.”
Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, said the BMC is in the process of preparing the plan, following a state government directive under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006. The BMC has already made provisions to create a separate fund and appoint a head for it in its accounting system.
“The finer details of the fee are yet to be finalised,” she said. “Once we prepare the final draft, we will send it to the various civic panels for their approval.”
After getting the nod from all civic panels, the BMC will send it for the government’s approval. “Only then will we implement the new fee,” said Shinde. Sources in the BMC said the fee is in line with the civic body’s aim of creating new sources of revenue generation.
“According to a rough estimate, it will generate Rs 25 crore,” said Ram Dhas, chief accountant, BMC. “Every year, the BMC spends Rs 150 crore in buying modern equipment for the fire brigade. Currently, the BMC gets only Rs 80 crore through various permission and scrutiny fees. We are also planning to purchase new ladders that are 90 feet tall and which can cover tall buildings that have 30-35 floors.”