Mumbai: Members of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee on Tuesday slammed the civic administration over the major fire which broke out on Monday at the Goods Services Tax (GST) Bhavan in Mazgaon a day earlier.
Cutting across party lines, corporators demanded a thorough inquiry into the fire at GST Bhavan. Samajwadi Party corporator and MLA Rais Shaikh alleged that while there have been a spate of fires in the city recently, the Mumbai Fire Brigade is only involved in issuing no-objection certificates to builders and developers.
Reacting to the charge, Additional Municipal Commissioner P Velrasu said the fire brigade was doing a good job but acknowledged that it was lacking adequate infrastructure.
Backing the fire department, Rasu said, “The functioning of the fire brigade is good. There are around 4.5 lakh properties in the city. They cannot reach everywhere at the same time, as they are lacking infrastructure.”
The admission did not go down well with the corporators, who said that this was due to the inaction of the BMC administration. Corporators asked who would save the lives of Mumbaikars if things continued in similar fashion.
Over the past eight days, 10 fire incidents have been reported in the city. Referring to the massive blaze at GST Bhavan, opposition leader Ravi Raja of Congress raised concerns about how Mumbai would remain safe if such incidents take place frequently. He also held the BMC administration and fire officials responsible for frequent fires. Raja said that the fire at GST Bhavan erupted on the ninth and 10th floor, where important documents were kept.
“Important documents were there on the ninth and 10th floor, and there are news reports that the 10th floor was illegal. I demand that the administration should first reveal whether the 10 floor was illegal. Did the building have the necessary NOCs from the fire department. An inquiry should be done about this, and the report should be presented before the standing committee at the earliest,” said Raja.
BJP corporator Makrand Narvekar read out Section 364 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, which says the fire officials have to reveal the cause of the fire to the BMC Commissioner, and said that this had not been done so far.
Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale, who was also present, said the cause of the fire at GST Bhavan would be ascertained only once the inquiry report is ready.
“If we are not able to have control over such incidents, then how will we provide safety to the tax payers in the city?,” asked Asif Zakaria, Congress corporator.
“The corporation is paying huge amounts on buying equipment for the fire brigade, but what’s the use of that if the fire department is not able to prevent such situations,” said BJP corporator Prabhakar Shinde.
Fire chief seeks resources
Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale said that currently there are 34 fire station in the city when 60-70 fire stations are required. Even an increase in mini-fire stations will help to curtail the fire incidents, he said.
Rahangdale added that currently, the manpower of the fire brigade is 700 personnel, but more people were needed. He said if volunteers help during fires, it would be able to control fires in a better manner. He said the Mumbai Fire Brigade is being upgraded and the administration is helping to increase infrastructure.