The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to produce a report of the probe ordered into the fire that engulfed Bhandup’s Dreams Mall on March 26. A level four fire had broken on the first floor of the mall, which later spread to Sunrise Hospital located on the third floor. The incident claimed the lives of nine patients, who were undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at the hospital.
A day after the incident, BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal had ordered a probe into the incident and a special investigating panel was set up. The panel is headed by Prabhat Rahangdale, deputy municipal Commissioner (DMC), disaster management, BMC, and former Chief Fire Officer (CFO) and was given a 15-day timeline to produce its reports. However, one month has passed since the incident was reported. But the committee is yet to submit its report to the municipal administration.
Rahangdale said, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he has asked for an extension to submit the report. “We have requested the civic body administration to extend the deadline owing to the second wave of the pandemic. The investigation is almost over and we are left with cross verifying a few points,” Rahangdale told the Free Press Journal.
Alongside this, the local BMC ward office had also ordered the mall administration to carry out a structural audit and submit the report to them. “We were told by the Fire Department to carry out a structural audit of the mall. We have convened the same to the mall administration and are hopeful that the report will be submitted to us in the next 10 to 15 days,” said Vibhas Acharekar, assistant municipal commissioner and in-charge of S ward.
Meanwhile, leaders of the opposition parties in BMC have blamed the civic body administration for the delay in the submission of the report. During the standing committee meeting, Leader of Opposition (LoP) and senior Congress corporator Ravi Raja had demanded the formation of a subcommittee to carry out a detailed investigation on the issue. “It’s surprising that one month has passed and the investigating team is yet to submit the report to the corporation. Nine people have died in the fire. Till date, not a single person has been booked by the police. It appears that the administration is not at all serious about the ongoing probe now,” Raja said.
Vinod Mishra, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator and group leader of the party in BMC, has questioned why a single arrest hasn’t been made even after one month of the incident. He said that he will be writing to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and demanding a high-level probe into the issue. “We all know that there were loopholes in the procedure of issuing OCs to the mall authorities. I guess, by delaying the report, the administration is trying to protect some of its own people,” Mishra said.