MUMBAI: Mumbai Police today banned the use of flying lanterns during Diwali celebration in a bid to avert possible fire and security threats caused by them to high rise buildings. The city police also decided to let people use sound-producing firecrackers till midnight on Laxmi Pujan (October 30), extending the deadline by two hours - from 10 PM to 12 AM.
"The use of fire lanterns in Mumbai skies during the Diwali festivities has been banned after a suggestion from the Fire Brigade," city police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said. Such lanterns had caused fires in some buildings in the past, the official added. Chief of Fire Brigade of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), P S Rahangdale, in a letter to Mumbai Police Commissioner, had drawn the attention of the Police Department towards accidents caused due to 'flying lanterns' every year.
"Flying lanterns in large number are released in air during Diwali and Makar Sankranti (festivals), which pose a serious threat to aircraft, high rise towers, slums, installations of HPCL and BPCL refineries etc. Even terrorists activities cannot be ruled out by its use," he said. It is, therefore, essential to ban the use of flying lanterns so that possible threats can be averted, he said. Referring to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations, Rahangdale said countries like the US and Thailand have also supported the ban on such flying objects.
He also asked the police to take action against those found selling and flying such item under the relevant sections of IPC. The Fire Brigade chief also cited data of calls received at their stations during Diwali in the last three years. A total of 217 calls were received in three years from 2013 to 2015. Out of 217, 103 calls reported fire at refuse area of buildings.
In as many as 80 incidents (calls), fire took place in godown and parts of house. Besides, the city fire brigade has also launched a campaign to sensitise Mumbaikars to observe a safe and secure Diwali. Meanwhile, talking about the extension of firecrackers deadline, Dudhe said, "Police have decided to allow people to use sound-generating fireworks till midnight on Laxmi Pujan."