Firefighters try to douse the fire which broke out at a commercial building in a cutlery market in South Mumbai
Firefighters try to douse the fire which broke out at a commercial building in a cutlery market in South Mumbai

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the fire brigade will act against commercial and old dilapidated structures in South Mumbai after the detection of tampering with meter box and alteration of wirings in the buildings.

A primary investigation conducted by the Mumbai Fire Brigade revealed that an alteration in the meter box in Ismail building of the Cutlery Market that houses nearly 300 shops led to the fire breakout.

The civic body will soon constitute squads to inspect such buildings.

The massive fire at the Gokul Nivas building in Kalbadevi in 2015 and the recent massive fire at Cutlery Market near Masjid raised concerns about the existing old and dilapidated commercial structures in south Mumbai.

Lack of awareness about fire safety norms and congestion in the narrow lanes make these structures more vulnerable to fire breakouts.

The civic body will now form squads to inspect such weak buildings in the congested areas like Kalbadevi, Bhuleshwar, Chira Bazar and Masjid Bunder. These inspection squads will comprise representatives from BMC, BEST undertakings, police and Mumbai Fire Brigade.

The civic body is planning to remove the unauthorised structures that have been posing as hurdles to the smooth passing of emergency vehicles in case of a mishap.

In the Kalbadevi fire in 2015, then Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesrikar, Deputy Chief Officer Sudhir Amin, Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Sanjay Rane and Byculla Station Officer Mahendra Desai lost their lives.

The investigation report of the fire incident had pointed out lacunas in the system to address such kind of eventualities. The gold jewellery, cloth and metal polishing units were also seen as a potential safety threat.

However, no concrete steps have been taken by the civic authorities even five years of the incident.

"The difficulties that were faced by the fire brigade while fighting the fire at Gokul Nivas in 2015 and firefighting operations at Cutlery Market on October 4 that took nearly 45 hours to bring under control, forced the civic body to discuss the fire safety problems prevailing in the congested lanes in some of the areas in South Mumbai,” said a BMC official.

In Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar, most of the residential buildings have been converted into commercial ones. They store lots of combustible materials like cloth, wood, LPG cylinders and even chemicals used for polishing metals," said the BMC official.

He added, "We will convene a meeting of the shop owners and proprietors of commercial establishments in these areas to discuss the issues and act on unauthorised constructions, illegal alterations of electrical wirings etc."

Unauthorised constructions and blocks on the roads will be removed immediately. Besides strict action will be taken against lax officials, senior officials told the officials concerned at the meeting.

Free Press Journal