The state will levy a charge on buildings under construction for granting them a fire clearance. A nod from the fire brigade is mandatory for any building being constructed in the city. Presently, the service is free.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has okayed the proposal, forwarded by the fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee. The minister convinced Bhattacharjee that no service should be provided free and second, the cash-strapped fire services department can easily earn an initial annual revenue to the tune of Rs 100 crore from the fees collected from builders.
Though the fee has not yet been finalised, fire brigade officials said they were preparing a formula on the levy and expected to finalise it within a month. The new system will be effective from this year-end.
The fee will be on the basis of the proposed built-up area and a little less than the charges levied by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) for sanctioning building plans. At present, the civic body charges a minimum of Rs 6,000 for sanctioning plans of a residential building on 1,000 sq ft. We plan to charge at least Rs 4,000 for a similar space, fire officials said. The rate will be higher for commercial buildings. The amount collected will be utilised to upgrade and modernise the fire brigade, the minister added.
Pandals to pay more
The fire services department has hiked the fees for puja organisers in the city and suburbs. As per the new rates, Rs 1,000 will be charged from the big puja organisers and Rs 500 from the small ones. Earlier, Rs 50 was taken as a fee for issuing fire brigade approval. This apart, charges for keeping fire tenders at the puja pandals has also been raised from Rs 600 to Rs 5,000.
Fire approvals will be issued from three centres the fire brigade headquarters and the Behala and CR Avenue branches from September 5.