12 Jan 2011, Mumbai: Are you planning to send your kids on a picnic to Mumbai’s Essel World or Water Kingdom? Don’t. These massive amusement parks – frequented daily by thousands of people of all ages — are currently operating without the required safety licenses. That’s right: These amusement parks, which charge exorbitant rates for visitors, have been “driving license-less” for over nine months now, since 31st March 2010. What is more, the top-brass of police have been aware of this fact, because it is uploaded on their website as part of their suo-moto disclosure under RTI.
The “Theatre Branch” of Mumbai Police, which issues licenses to multiplexes, video parlours, and other amusement centres has not renewed the license of Pan India Paryatan Ltd (owners of Essel World & Water Kingdom), as the necessary NOCs of Electrical Inspector, MTNL, Chief Fire Officer, PWD, Health, Collector etc are still pending for the financial year 2010-11.
When my colleague Saniya Varkhandkar turned up at the office of DCP HQ 1 (Police Commissioner’s office) today afternoon and insisted on inspecting the police licenses of this famous amusement park, Senior Police Inspector N P Patil reluctantly showed her documentation that revealed that the license had expired on 31 March 2010. Upon her insistence (and some persuasion on phone by me), he showed her the No-Objection Certificates (NOCs), which had expired on 31st March. The police license is conditional on these NOCs.
Mr Patil also showed her the fresh application form, which was still pending. “It is under process, and the license will be renewed upto March 2011 within a couple of months,” he said.
However, Senior Inspector Yashwant Phatak of Gorai Police Station, in whose jurisdiction Essel World & Water Kingdom operates, contends that the licence expired only on 31st December (and not March) 2010.
A number of questions about public probity arise from this:
1) Even driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s license and proper vehicle papers is a major offense. How big is the offense of running an amusement park with giant roller-coasters, water-slides etc. without license! Given the amount of moving parts, electrical components, water, cutting edges, etc., the dangers are not to be underestimated! Why haven’t the police and other authorities taken action and closed them down?
2) Even if there are no accidents such as falls, cuts, drowning, collision etc., the amusement park presents on a daily basis health hazards such as vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness, high-blood-pressure, heart-attacks, low-blood-sugar, epilepsy, strokes, whiplash, muscle strains & sprains, etc.
3) Why are these NOCs still pending?
- Just administrative delays?
- Corruption and arm-twisting by some department?
- Equipment are outdated, worn-out and badly maintained?
- The amusement is understaffed or staffed by untrained personnel?
- Safety norms are routinely violated by one or more of the amusement rides?
- Necessary inspections required by law have not been carried out?
- Notices have been served by one or more of the authorities issuing the NOCs?
- License fees or taxes are pending?
- Other requirements of law have not been fulfilled?
Download the PDF file link showing details of Essel World’s license on page 86 [RTI declaration of Mumbai Police Commissioner under Sec 4(1)(b)] from: http://www.mumbaipolice.org/right_of_information/Right_of_Information.pdf