Mumbai: BMC standing panel meet adjourned over Dreams Mall fire probe report

The standing committee meeting in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was adjourned on Wednesday, after corporator members raised objections regarding submission of the special enquiry report of the Dreams Mall fire.

After the fire incident of March 26, the civic administration had initiated a special investigation led by Prabhat Rahangdale - Deputy Municipal Commissioner (DMC) disaster management. The panel was given a 15 day deadline to submit its findings. According to BMC officials, the report was submitted to the municipal commissioner's office on April 11 which was later approved by him.

According to the report, the firefighting equipment at the mall and the Sunrise hospital was non-operational on the day of the incident and the investigative officials have urged the administration to revoke the license of the private company, which was responsible for maintaining the fire safety compliance. Furthermore the report blamed the mall and hospital management for ignoring warnings issued by BMC officials and ordered to file criminal cases against owners and directors of the mall and hospital and have ordered enquiry against two fire brigade officials.

Meanwhile, members of the standing committee questioned the issue of why the report wasn’t tabled at the meeting and was submitted directly to the commissioner. As a sign of protest, Ravi Raja - leader of opposition in the committee and senior Congress corporator initiated a point of order demanding adjournment of the meeting, as a sign of protest.

"We all know now that the building proposals department had urged the civic administration to not give permission to the hospital to start its operation but the civic administration paid no attention to it," Raja said.

"This enquiry is just eyewash, which is hiding the loopholes in the administration," he added.

Raja's point of order was supported unanimously by members across party lines.

Prabhakar Shinde, BJP group leader and committee member, demanded a judicial probe into the matter and said that the report should be submitted to the standing committee.

"It has been one month of the incident and the BMC hasn't issued any compensation for the kin of the deceased. This is shameful," said Shinde.

Rakhee Jadhav, senior corporator of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and leader of the party in BMC, said that an independent panel should have been appointed for carrying out the probe in the first place.

"The officials incharge of the enquiry were themselves responsible for giving out fire NOC to the mall and hospital in the first place," said Jadhav.

Meanwhile, senior officials in the BMC maintained that this was a preliminary enquiry and the assigned team was given the task of finding the detailed cause of fire.

"The enquiry was initiated to cover all the fire related aspects as fire was the immediate cause of the catastrophe," said the official.

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