Kalbadevi blaze: Dividing retrieved molten gold becomes a tough ask

May 26, 2015, 06:47 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

Police will attempt to hand over valuables recovered from the rubble after verifying individual claims, but the molten gold retrieved from the debris might be distributed among all claimants

After the losses from the Kalbadevi blaze touched Rs 4 crore within 10 days of the tragedy, the police have finally decided to conduct a panchnama of the debris lying at Mumbadevi ground and allow citizens to look for their belongings.

While owners will have to prove ownership towards their belongings, the police too are unsure about what to do with the molten gold. The fire in Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas on May 9 gutted the entire residential-commercial building, which held a number of shops on its four floors.

Although the fire did not injure any resident, people reported heavy losses of material as well as goods kept in the jewellery-making units of this building. So far, residents have reported losses worth Rs 4.11 crore to the LT Marg police station.

These include valuables like gold, silver, silk clothing, electronic appliances and other items. People have registered their statements with the police station with a detailed complaint of lost objects. The debris was lying at the Mumbadevi BMC ground where it had been since the day of the fire, under police and CCTV camera protection.

Residents were getting more and more restless since they were not being allowed to take a look at the debris and their belongings. mid-day had reported on May 11 on how the valuables were lying in an open ground, guarded by only three cops (‘Cash, valuables lie scattered on open ground’).

A complex process
But finally, the police took the decision of starting the procedure of the panchnama from Monday. But Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesarikar’s demise forced them to postpone it by another day. Thus, Tuesday onwards, the debris will be sorted into valuables and trash.

The police will then prepare a detailed record of every valuable along with photographs. It will then tally the valuables with the statements issued by complainants after the fire. If someone’s description matches the object, the person will have to produce evidence of ownership and claim the object.

“But in case of molten gold which does not bear any identification, things are going to become very complicated. We might just distribute it equally among all the claimants (who had some amount of gold),” said Sachin Gaikwad, sub-inspector from LT Marg police station.

Survivor speak
“I lost valuables worth Rs 6-7 lakh which consisted of my wedding jewellery. Besides, the building consisted of jewellery units. So even I am unsure about how much of my gold will I be able to retrieve and claim,” said Priyanka Pol, a resident. Pol is getting married on May 30 after help from citizens in the form of donations poured in.

Fire brigade equipment lost
The fire brigade too has reported its missing equipment from the Kalbadevi fire. These include 5-6 hoses, iron rods, hammers, hooks and three types of ladders. The ladders have been broken partially while the rest of the material has gone missing.

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