Dombivli fire: 'Drunk' Thane officials survey damages, abuse locals

Officials from the Thane collector’s office, sent to survey the extent of damage to houses, arrived drunk and abused locals. They were handed over to the police

The residents of Dombivli have barely begun to piece their lives back together after Thursday’s multiple blasts in a chemical factory in the suburb’s MIDC Phase II. The last thing they need is a mockery of their suffering and rehabilitation process. On Thursday evening, a circle officer and four talatis from the Thane collector’s office, who were sent to survey the extent of damage caused by the explosions to houses in the area, crossed the line.

mid-day’s January 28 interview with Mandeep Sandhu, whose testimony nailed the yoga guruKamlakar Patil, circle officer from the Thane collector's office.Kamlakar Patil, circle officer from the Thane collector's office.
Kamlakar Patil, circle officer from the Thane collector's office.

They allegedly arrived drunk at a residential complex in Ganesh Nagar in Dombivli, refused to step out of their car to perform the audit and abused worried locals who sought answers on the relief process.

When the locals realised that the officials — circle officer Kamlakar Patil and the four talatis — were drunk, they called out their unprofessional behaviour and handed them over to the Manpada police.

Santosh Keni, a resident, said the officials had made a pit stop at a bar before arriving at the locality. "They were drunk and perfunctorily surveyed the houses while sitting in their car. When people began questioning them, the officials ignored and even abused them. After we found out that they were drunk, we caught them and handed them over to the police."

"They are hurting our sentiments at a time of tragedy," rued Keni.

Suhasini Rane, the district BJP vice-president, too, questioned the official’s conduct. “Here, people have no food or water, and the officials are enjoying themselves. An inquiry should be conducted to ensure that such incidents do not recur."

Shantaram Awsare, senior inspector of Manpada police station, said Patil had been sent for a medical examination. "It’s a good thing that some people handed the officials over to us. Otherwise, they would have been lynched by the angry mob."

Thane District Collector Mahesh Kalyankar said he was not aware of the misdemeanour, but would look into the issue. He said his priority, so far, had been to complete the rescue operations, which ended on Saturday.

Death toll rises to 12
The body of an employee of Probace Enterprises’ chemical factory, Mayuresh Vijay Waykule (28), was recovered from the blast site on Saturday morning, taking the death toll to 12. Waykule, a resident of Aadharwadi in Kalyan, had joined the factory just a day before the tragedy. On his first day, he spoke to a cousin for an hour, and expressed his relief at having found a job. Waykule was the sole breadwinner of his family. Suresh Shinde, fire official with the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation, said the body was recovered during rescue operations. “We have kept a fire engine and a water tanker on standby for contingencies."

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