Mumbai: Has Oshiwara blaze woken up BMC?

The furniture market fire has led residents to once again try and push civic authorities to take action against illegal units along Oshiwara nullah to avoid another tragedy

The fire broke out in a plastic godown in the Oshiwara furniture market on Saturday, injuring 25
The fire broke out in a plastic godown in the Oshiwara furniture market on Saturday, injuring 25

The Oshiwara furniture market fire was in some ways inevitable, and in some ways, an eye-opener. Even as citizens have been rallying against the encroachment across the Oshiwara nullah, the BMC had kept turning a blind eye to the illegal slums and shops, which only mushroomed over the years.

In 2014, mid-day had printed a report (‘Officials turn blind eye to encroachments, claim Oshiwara residents’), which stated how illegal furniture shops, industrial units and foundries have come up around the river, also known as Oshiwara nullah, because of which it has got polluted. Even after repeated complaints to the BMC by the residents of six buildings of Siddhivinayak society near the nullah, no action was taken. This year too, locals as well as ex-MLA from the area Subhash Desai wrote a letter to the BMC, but not much has changed.

A worried lot
After the fire, residents have again decided to approach the authorities.

“If there is a major fire near the units adjacent to the nullah, that will be more dangerous as there are some illegal structures there storing dangerous chemicals used for painting furniture,” said a local, adding that a blaze can lead to an explosion as well as cause severe air pollution.

A resident, Bharat V, said, “I hope that the ward office and authorities concerned take a serious note of the recent fire. This can also happen in the illegal units that have come up along the nullah; we have seen the workers there burning the waste wires to extract metal from them.” “We have already sent several letters to the BMC, but the ward office has not been keen on taking action for reasons best known to it,” he added.

Official version
Assistant municipal commissioner of K-west ward said, “We have been taking regular action against the structures that have illegally come up along the Oshiwara nullah. If any new units have come up, we will take action as per law.”

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