Updated on: Friday, January 14, 2022, 11:15 PM IST

Mumbai: Students protest for safety after fire incident at Byculla

Salman Ansari

Salman Ansari


Four days since the level-II fire broke out at the Gloria Convent High School in Byculla and the timber market around it, parents and students of the school have come out in protest against the timber mart, with calls for measures to ensure the safety of the students.

The school and the students have demanded the removal of the alleged illegal timber mart for their safety, even as there appears to be a long-standing legal dispute over the land between the school and the timber mart owners who claim they have been the original owners for 100 years.

Harshad Sinol, a parent with kids in both class IV and class X, said, “As a parent, I cannot tell you the amount of fear we have because of the fire incident. The timber mart owners have also started reconstruction of their shops without any fire audit." The parents allege that since the fire incident, none of the officials including the mayor who lives close visited them or asked about their grievances

As per the rules, a 200 metre radius area around the school should be vacant and silent. "However, there is a timber mart next to the school which caught fire. If the students were in school at the time then their safety would be compromised. It looks as if the authorities are waiting for a huge incident to happen before they take some legal action, said Satish Khadge, parent of a class X student. He added that a complaint has been filed in the High Court against the illegal construction and disturbance caused by the timber mart.

A part of the convent which runs the school, Sister Clare said, “I feel very scared for the kids. We are having sleepless nights. If there was no lockdown this fire would be a disaster. Not only would the fire harm the children but they would also panic and it could lead to a stampede."

Over 1000 students attend the school in the morning and afternoon batches. "The owners of the timber mart are tenants who have been allotted space by school authorities. However, they have constructed more shops illegally. "We want to build a playground for our students on that land but we are not able to do it,” said Sister Clare.

Owner of one of the timber companies, 'Latiff & Sons', Tahir Latiff said, “There are a total of eight companies. After this fire incident, the companies have suffered a cumulative loss of more than Rs 10 crore. The school has no sympathy for us."

Latiff added that no reconstruction of the shops was being done and that the owners are only securing them with tin sheets.

“Regarding the land encroachment, I would like to clarify that this entire land including the school premises belonged to my grandfather who had given part of the property for building the school. Since 1971, we are in a legal battle with the school after they filed a suit against us,” Latiff said.

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Published on: Saturday, January 15, 2022, 07:02 AM IST