Event firm director denies responsibility for Make In India programme blaze

Director of Wizcraft International Entertainment, which is being blamed by government officials for the fire, says the company abided by all conditions laid down by the fire department

'It is unfair to point fingers'

Director of Wizcraft International Entertainment, which is being blamed by government officials for the fire, says the company abided by all conditions laid down by the fire department

Sabbas Joseph, one of the directors at Wizcraft International Entertainment (Pvt) Limited, which managed the Maharashtra Rajani at Girgaum Chowpatty, and is being blamed by government officials for the fire, said that they had abided by all conditions of the fire department, and a day before the event, they had also participated in a mock drill at the venue.

The gutted stage and equipment. Wizcraft denied all allegations but did not comment whether it had been given strict guidelines that fireworks be avoided. Pic/Pradeep DhivarThe gutted stage and equipment. Wizcraft denied all allegations but did not comment whether it had been given strict guidelines that fireworks be avoided. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

“We participated along with disaster management, fire department, police and traffic department personnel. Unlike the original plan of keeping the firecrackers in and around the dias, as followed in other events, here the fire department officials asked us to move the fire crackers out of the venue, and we strictly followed these instructions. All fire crackers (mostly aerial fire works) that would have been used post the event, were kept on the beach front,” he said.

Wizcraft director Sabbas Joseph
Wizcraft director Sabbas Joseph

Speaking about state government officials accusing Wizcraft International for the fire, Joseph said they had kept to the conditions put forth by the Fire Department. He said, “It is unfair to point fingers at anyone at this stage. The fire department is yet to complete the investigation and is yet to submit the reason for the fire. It is too early to jump the gun and blame us, as we have abided by all the conditions put forth by the fire department.”

Asked if they had used pyrotechnics on the dias, Joseph said cold pyros were also used only after they were approved and checked by the fire department.

When told that Wizcraft claims to have followed norms laid by fire department including shifting of aerial fire works outside the venue, Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale said, “We are in the process of investigating if all the check list parameters were followed at the ground level as per the stipulated norms by the organisers. Also, the report from the PWD/BEST electrical department is awaited. It will help ascertain any short circuit possibility, and the electrical report will also be considered before we submit our final fire report, which will take another two to three days time.”

Pratap Dighavkar, Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region) said, “We are awaiting the fire department’s ‘cause of fire’ report and our future course of action will depend on it. Meanwhile we have instructed the organisers that they should not use pyrotechnics on the stage or anywhere at the venue for the forthcoming events. Instructions have been given to the Public Works Department and BEST engineers to check electrical equipment and wiring before the start of the event.”

A senior IPS officer added that the local D B Marg police station will investigate the incident and the necessary case will be registered depending on the fire report. The officer, when asked about insurance claims, said, “Only acts of accidents are covered by insurance companies and if the probe hints at an act of negligence then police will file an FIR under appropriate sections against the organiser.”

Insured for Rs 25 cr
The organisers of the Maharashtra Night at Girgaum Chowpatty had insured life and property to the tune of Rs 25 crore. Sabbas Joseph confirmed that they have taken insurance coverage of a public liability policy for loss of public life due to any accident or terror strike from New India Assurance company. However, he said he was not aware of the premium paid. Attempts to speak to New India Assurance company officials did not yield any result.

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