BY NEHA KULKARNI
Of the 2,320 pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) bought by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for fire officials, 1,700 or 73 per cent are not usable, a 2012 audit report of the civic body says.
The report was cited by a corporator in the standing committee meeting of the civic body Wednesday in connection with a new proposal to purchase 11,000 safety shoes for the firemen at Rs 91 lakh.
According to the report, only 620 pieces of equipment that were imported from China have been utilised.
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The total cost of the equipment was Rs 29.34 crore, with each set of gear costing around Rs 1.23 lakh. The entire set contains 15 pieces of equipment, including fire-proof jackets, trousers, t-shirts, gloves, shoes and helmets.
The report also says that a second inquiry on the issue was handed over to the Test, Audit and Vigilance Officer (TAVO) of BMC. Civic officials suspect that senior officials did not use adequate protective gear before entering the Kalbadevi building on Saturday.
The seven-member panel probing the incident is looking into this aspect.
“The quality of the equipment was not checked by BMC though firemen complained that the equipment did not even fit them. This means that the BMC hurried into procuring the equipment,” the report says.
Several corporators on Wednesday questioned BMC’s methods of procuring and testing protective gear and equipment bought for the fire brigade. Sandeep Deshpande, MNS corporator, said, “How do we check if the equipment is fire-proof? The contractors did not submit appropriate documents at the time of supplying the gear. There needs to be an investigation into this before we purchase more gear. We cannot compromise on quality any more.”
Pallavi Darade, additional municipal commissioner, holding interim charge of the fire department, said, “The new proposal is to procure shoes that can be utilised during parades and not for fire-fighting. The gear that was procured earlier in 2012 is being used, but the contractor has been paid only half the amount as the case is sub judice.”