Kalbadevi blaze: Residents claim Rs 4.35 crore loss, only Rs 7 lakh recovered

Victims claim that the rains have been playing spoilsport, making it difficult to extricate valuables from the debris; many of them have given up hope of recovering anything from the retrieved rubble

After the fire in Kalbadevi building Gokul Niwas on May 9, a number of people have been approaching the L T Marg police, claiming that they have lost valuables in the fire in the building. But the police, who were in charge of keeping the debris of the building under security, have only found valuables amounting to Rs 7 lakh till now.

Kalbadevi fire: Cash, valuables lie scattered on open ground

Valuables like gold, silver, silk clothing, and electronic appliances were mixed up in the debris. File pics
Valuables like gold, silver, silk clothing, and electronic appliances were mixed up in the debris. File pics

mid-day had reported on May 11, a few days after the blaze, on how the debris from the spot had been shifted to the Mumbadevi BMC ground, guarded by only three cops from the L T Marg police station. Subsequently, security was beefed up at the ground.

Priyanka Pol got married to Swapnil Surve on May 29
Priyanka Pol got married to Swapnil Surve on May 29

The L T Marg police have been checking the debris at Mumbadevi with the help of the victims and BMC officers. If nothing useful is found, the examined debris is shifted to the Mulund dumping ground.

The police had kept around 110 trucks of debris in an open ground behind the temple; around five to six policemen stood guard and six CCTV cameras were installed to keep a round-the-clock vigil on the debris at the civic ground.

“We have started checking the debris in front of witnesses, and all the victims have been called to check for their valuables as well,” said Rajkumar Kothmire, police inspector, L T Marg police station.

Goldsmith Amar Govind Bera, who said he had suffered an estimated loss of R80 lakh and around 1,300 grams of gold, retrieved around R4 lakh worth of valuables from the debris. “We have given Bera five gold chains, two mangalsutras and a silver brick of 2 kg,” added Kothmire.

Kalbadevi fire: CCTV cameras to keep watch on ground filled with debris

The victims are goldsmiths, saree shop owners and a woman, who was then a bride-to-be. Around 13 people have approached the cops, with a combined loss of about Rs 4.35 crore. The debris is said to hold around 20 kilos of gold. “Rains and the trucks and JCBs have played spoilsport due to which we have not found a lot of our gold.

They are checking the debris and call me at times, but I’m not interested. I can’t waste my day everyday hoping to get something. I am thankful to God for saving my life, and I am now starting from the beginning,” Bera told mid-day. Until now, the cops have managed to dump 50 truckloads of debris in Mulund yard out of the 110 trucks; the process is still going on.

“We have handed over a steel suitcase to Shantaram Mandavkar (a Gokul Niwas resident) after he brought the key to open the lock which he had with him; he found five gold rings, two chains, two earrings, four gold chains, a cricket set, utensils and one school bag,” said Kothmire.

The police also handed over a safety locker to Ramavatar Poddar and Harish Kamaliya which were empty; Jethmal Thakkar was handed over his weighing machine and weights & measures he requires for his cloth business. Mahendra Mishra, a paan shop owner, was handed over his table fan and two locks that he had on his shop.

Most of the items that were found are utensils, that cannot be used. The saree shop owners face huge losses, but some of them are insured. The process of cleaning the debris was delayed due to the rains, said a police officer.

Swapnil Surve, husband of Priyanka Pol, who lost her wedding jewellery costing R8 lakh in the fire at Gokul Niwas I and my wife, Priyanka Pol, had visited the debris spot several times, but we did not find anything useful. Now we don’t visit, though they call us. I am not very hopeful, and neither is Priyanka.

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