Wankhede cleared to hold World Cup matches

Zeecric Bureau

Mumbai: In a huge respite to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), the city`s fire department officials on Tuesday gave their go ahead to the Wankhede stadium for holding World Cup matches.

The officials had earlier raised doubts about the safety arrangements at the revamped Wankhede stadium, which is scheduled to hold the final of the mega event on April 2 besides a few other games.

"We have given NOC to the stadium. They have fulfilled all the fire safety norms at the stadium," deputy chief fire officer A N Shinde, who inspected the stadium with his team, said here.

A team of fire officials conducted an inspection at the stadium this morning to check the fire safety mechanism. This was the fourth inspection conducted by the department.

"We have given them the compliance certificate. They can host matches. The stadium is safe and secure," Shinde said.

Last week, the Mumbai Fire Brigade had expressed displeasure over the fire safety system at the newly renovated stadium, which will hosts three World Cup matches including the final on April 2.

The department had found irregularities at the stadium including sprinklers at the stands and ventilation problem in the basement. The fire officials had given the lapses in writing to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

Among the mandatory fire apparatus are water hydrants, internal riser system for the stands, no-smoking indicators, fire alarms, extinguishers and others.

"The stadium had been issued an Occupation Certificate long back. So there was no question of withholding it. We had to verify whether the changes made at the stadium are similar with the existing fire safety norms and then issue an NOC," Shinde said.

NOC is provided when the structure is adequately ventilated and has all the necessary preventive measures and systems in place, he said.

The Mumbai Fire Brigade will also provide fire engines, water tankers and manpower during the three days when the matches will be held at the stadium.

"We will provide fire engines and water tankers on a chargeable basis during all the three matches scheduled to be played at the stadium," Shinde said.

On Sunday, World Cup tournament director Ratnakar Shetty had allayed fears about safety norms at the stadium and said security would not be compromised while staging matches at the venue.

Apart from the World Cup summit contest, 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 league ties on March 13 (New Zealand v Canada – a day match) and March 18 (New Zealand v Sri Lanka - a day/night match).