Following the fire on Thursday that destroyed over 150 shanties and injured 17 residents of Shastri Nagar No 3, Bandra (West), many locals are pointing fingers at one neighbour who owns many illegal houses in the area. The residents, homeless for over two days now, are also lamenting the lack of help from government authorities.
Riyaz Maulana, allegedly the owner of over 50 illegal shanties in the area, has several cases registered against him as he has started many commercial activities without legal permission. Adding to that, the residents also disclosed that on Wednesday afternoon, the area had faced a complete blackout for almost three to four hours. On inquiry, it was found that some electrical work had been carried out.
“I could see sparks near the meter cabin two days before the fire,” said Farzana Khan, a resident. “Maulana has taken out a lot of illegal connections through his meter and this mischief of his has landed all of us in deep trouble. I hope some action is taken against him. We have informed the local police about this and investigations need to be carried out.”
Another resident, Mohsin Qureshi, said, “Interestingly, Maulana has not been spotted since the night of the fire. A man who has so many houses here should have visited the place to see the damage at least once. The fire must be a result of the electrical work done on the day we faced a blackout. We have registered complaints against him many times but none of the authorities have responded.”
Tanveer Patel, the corporator in the area, said, “I have been getting several complaints against Riyaz Maulana and he has been harassing people. The illegal constructions need to be demolished but Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is not authorised as this area falls under MHADA.”
When contacted, Riyaz Maulana refuted all allegations and instead blamed the residents for troubling his family. He said, “The tenants who live in my house had complained regarding some issues with the power supply and the officials from the company came and sorted out the issue. However, the residents are blaming me for the fire and are harassing me and my family over this issue.”