Day after slum fire near Bandra station, BMC douses demolition drive
Some BMC officials say political pressure halted it; dy civic chief says they'll restart if they get police protection
A day after promising to continue its demolition drive in the Garib Nagar slums in Bandra East, where a massive fire gutted several homes on Thursday, the BMC has poured water on the drive. The blaze occurred when the civic body was razing shanties following a Bombay High Court order.
Several slum dwellers who lost their shanties in Thursday's fire were seen taking shelter on vacant land near the railway tracks. Pics/Satej Shinde
Deputy Municipal Commissioner Kiran Acharekar told mid-day, "We have sought police bandobast for the action. Once they provide us with the force, action on illegal slums will begin immediately. On Friday, there was no bandobast, as they were busy with the [aftermath of the] fire."
Throughout Friday, three fire engines were stationed, as there were chances of a blaze smouldering below the debris
Local Shiv Sena corporator Halim Khan said, "The residents should first be given an alternative [accommodation]... Where will they go otherwise? The action should be stopped till an alternative is provided."
According to the civic officials, there was a lot of political pressure after the fire to not take any action against the shanties for the time being. A senior official from the H-east ward (Bandra East, Santacruz East) said, "We have decided not to take any action against the slums. The decision on the action could be taken by next week." BJP MLA Ashish Shelar had visited the spot on Thursday night.
Another official said, "Political parties have asked [BMC] to wait for at least a week." However, on Thursday, even after the mishap, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, H-east ward officer Alka Sasane had clarified that the action would continue until the October 30 deadline of the HC order, till all the illegal slums near the Tansa water pipeline were demolished. Civic officials had demolished about 60 structures on Thursday. Sasane, however, remained unavailable for comment on Friday.
Throughout Friday, the fire brigade had also stationed three fire engines, as there were chances of a fire smouldering below the debris. A senior fire official, who was on duty till Friday morning, said, "There are still chances of a fire sparking, as it is smouldering below the debris. Our team will leave only after we are completely sure that there is no threat of a blaze erupting again."
Meanwhile, several slum dwellers who lost their shanties in the fire were seen taking shelter on vacant land near the railway tracks. Many have made temporary arrangements to keep their belongings. There were allegations of the locals having triggered the fire to avoid the demolition drive. In 2011, there was a massive fire in the same area.
No. of structures BMC demolished on Thursday