Just when it looked like Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium had shirked off all the preparedness controversies for hosting its quota of Cricket World Cup matches including the finals, the city's fire department has come out with a shocker.
Fire officials have expressed dissatisfaction at the non-compliance of fire safety norms at the revamped venue and are seeking a response from the Mumbai Cricket Association in this connection.
"We will soon write a letter to the MCA stating there is a need to comply with fire safety norms at the stadium. Once they abide by the terms we would again conduct an inspection," chief fire officer Uday Tatkare said.
On Wednesday, two fire officials, who visited the stadium for the second time to inspect the fire safety mechanism in place, found some discrepancies in the arrangements.
"The team has found that the newly renovated stadium has many loopholes in its fire safety mechanism. The stadium must be in compliance with the fire safety conditions," Tatkare said.
"Among the mandatory fire apparatus are ring hydrant system, water hydrants, internal riser system for the stands, no-smoking indicators, fire alarms and extinguishers have to be installed. There are some lapses which they need to follow," a fire officer said, but did not explain in detail what the lapses were.
Meanwhile, indicating a lack of communication between the concerned authorities or perhaps just as a tactic to stall for time, MCA joint secretary Lalchand Rajput said the association had not received any sort of communication from the fire brigade department.]
Wankhede Stadium, that went into the renovation mode soon after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League on June 1, 2008, is to stage two other World Cup ties, apart from the summit contest on April 2. The other scheduled matches are to be held on March 13 (New Zealand vs Canada - a day match) and March 18 (New Zealand vs Sri Lanka - a day/night match).
It has been tardy in meeting its deadlines, but somehow pulled through the ICC's last round of inspections. However, now the news of the fire-safety lapses doesn't bode well for the venue as its hosting the finals is in serious doubt.