Are Indian malls safe?

The Great Indian Mall Mania will see up to 600 malls up by 2012.    About 90% of current and planned malls fall way short of international standards in design, specifications, safety and security, and have already started witnessing accidents, some even leading to deaths or severe injuries.  A series of accidents at a Bangalore mall has forced state and city authorities to rethink safety standards for malls in the city.  “Why do we take corrective actions and not preventive ones?”  When Indian developers are too keen to make lots of “mall” from the business, why just copy and paste the swanky/glitzy finishes from developed markets, and not public safety & hygiene standards?

Is it because there are no guidelines or norms?  Or due to lack of monitoring?  Or because we just don’t care.   With 1170 million people, how does it matter if 1170 were to lose their life?  Just copying international standards will not serve the purpose, because most markets with successful mall stories (eg. USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Dubai) have little experience of handling the crowds that visit Indian malls.  Managing large crowds needs an altogether different approach, especially in safety and security.  In India, parents’ lovingly let kids move up and down an escalator for sheer fun and even enjoy the sight with parental satisfaction; pedestrians walk aimlessly in parking areas, being blissfully oblivious of where pedestrian walkways are (if there are any), or where driveways are.  The need of the hour is to put in place strict safety guidelines.  It is time to start working towards creating our own safety norms for malls, taking necessary inputs from international standards and experience.

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