Thursday, July 21, 2005

How safe are these malls?

How safe are these malls?
With Bangalore catching up the fast lane culture of ‘everything under one roof’, Metrolife checks out how safe are the shopping malls in the City.
Deccan Herald

It wasn’t long ago when people would stroll down leisurely on the bazaar streets, pick up a couple of things, perhaps relax at an eatery, have a bite and finally, wind up their shopping with a satiated feeling.

Today, the scene has changed, from one of relaxation to chilling out. Just a twist of words? Not really. Street shopping has become passe and it is the era of malls, with its multi-layered shopping and entertainment concept.

Bangalore has caught up with the fast lane culture of “everything under one roof.” The good thing is that one can spot a lot of people shopping, eating or just hanging out and the energy is tremendous. But are public places safe given the times we live in?

Safety is like HIV, buried in our subconscious. It doesn’t strike us until it happens to us. It’s not generalising but the analogy is dangerous. Have a look at any public place and find out for yourself how safe they are. Metrolife picked up malls in the City for a security check and this is what came through.

“Safety? I trust the malls are safe. At any given time, there are thousands of people hanging out there. I am sure they have the safety gadgets in place,” says a 20-something Anushree.

What are these safety gadgets? “The mall is covered by fire detection and alarm systems. We also have sprinklers, hydrants and there are enough fire escape routes. There are four staircases to be used in case of fire accident. We have trained staff and we have prepared an emergency manual for all kinds of emergencies such as bomb threats, evacuation, fire etc,” says Neeraj Duggal, head of resource and facilities, The Forum. The mall in Koramangala averages 50,000 footfall on weekends and around 30,000 on weekdays. “Our lifts are manned. We have CCTVs and we regularly conduct emergency drills with our staff,” he adds.

Rajesh, senior marketing manager, Bangalore Central, says they have a team of security guards and their fire safety and alarm systems are in place. Balamurali, financial advisor, Garuda mall says they get between 7,000 and 9,000 people on weekdays and around 20,000 people on weekends. “Ours is an ‘intelligent’ building, attached to a building automation system. We have 52 cameras out of which eight are the revolving ones. There are six colour monitors in the building management services (BMS) room where photographs are taken every second and stored for 48 hours,” he says.

And as they claim, the malls seem to be equipped with trained personnel and latest fire equipment, and managers feel there is no need for a screening at the entrance. People come here to have fun. We can’t have security checks for them,” says Rajesh. Neeraj agrees with him and says Bangalore does not have “that level of risk” that we have to frisk customers. He, however, adds that when it comes to security “nothing is really enough.”


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