RELEASING sky lanterns, popularly called ‘Chinese lanterns’, often sold at places such as Marine Drive and Worli Seaface could soon attract punishment as the BMC has asked the Mumbai Police to take legal action against people found to sell, store or fly them.
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In his letter to police commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar, the chief fire officer of the Mumbai fire Brigade P Rahangdale has termed it a fire hazard and also a potential terror threat.
Rahangdale stated that the decision was taken by municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta after the fire department highlighted the risks caused by flying lanterns. He added that sale of flying lanterns in Mumbai is higher during Makar Sankranti celebrated in January, Diwali and on a few other occasions during the year.
In the letter sent on October 25, Rahangdale cited an incident where one such lantern caused a fire in an under-construction building in Malad east. “The flying sky lanterns had started a fire in a 36-storey building in January last year and they pose a fire hazard for other highrise buildings as well. In order to avoid a repeat of such incidents, these lanterns should be banned,” he said.
Rahangdale added that flying lanterns are likely to cause fires. “These flying lanterns cause mishaps including interference in air traffic and may be used in terror related attacks. It is therefore necessary to ban them. Even the national fire protection association has expressed concern and they too support the banning of such lanterns,” he said.