The Make in India loss no one's discussing

Feb 21, 2016, 08:30 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Proprietor who supplied cranes for Maharashtra Night, lost two machines in one evening. Event organiser Wizcraft may have insurance to fall back on. What of the sub-contractors no one cares about?

The numbers say it all. The Maharashtra government will be signing investment deals worth Rs 4.65 lakh crores following the Make In India week. But, for the several sub-contractors who had pitched in with essential equipment to ensure that the stage on which the likes of Amitabh Bachchan stood and Hema Malini danced, or the smoke cloud that gave their appearance a dreamy twist, last Sunday’s event may as well have sounded their death knell. So paltry is the compensation they have received, or hope to receive.

One of Hussain’s two hydraulic cranes at Girgaum Chowpatty whose estimated total value is between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore, has been burnt beyond repair. Pics/Rane Ashish

The story of the loss caused by the fire on the night of February 14 is best told by the two hydraulic cranes that, at least till Saturday, were still standing at Girgaum Chowpatty were the event was held. The two cranes - with an estimated total value of between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore - have been burnt so badly that towing them away is going to be quite difficult.

(Left to right) Sayed Akbar Hussain’s son Shahazad Hussain; supervisor Sabhajee Yadav; Sayed Akbar Hussain, proprietor of M/S Super Crane; crane operator Sanjay Gupta and mechanic  Mohammed Yusuf
(Left to right) Sayed Akbar Hussain’s son Shahazad Hussain; supervisor Sabhajee Yadav; Sayed Akbar Hussain, proprietor of M/S Super Crane; crane operator Sanjay Gupta and mechanic Mohammed Yusuf

The charred cranes are a source of worry for Sayed Akbar Hussain, the 58-year-old proprietor of M/S Super Crane, who supplied them to Mastan Crane Services, which had been given the contract by Wizcraft. Hussain, whose office is at Wadala Truck Terminal, said, “As per the verbal agreement with Mastan, the hydraulic cranes were to be put in service at Girgaum Chowpatty from February 8 to February 15, where as the smaller crane was required only from February 10.” Hussain, who has been supplying cranes for hire for construction projects and other loading and unloading work for since 1995, added that a daily rent of Rs 14,000 per crane was agreed upon, and a total of Rs 2.66 lakh was expected from the deal.

Mohammed Moin, an employee of Sayed Akbar Hussain, is currently stationed at Girgaum Chowpatty where the two cranes will remain till Hussain dredges up money to have them moved to the Wadala Truck Terminal. PICS/Rane Ashish
Mohammed Moin, an employee of Sayed Akbar Hussain, is currently stationed at Girgaum Chowpatty where the two cranes will remain till Hussain dredges up money to have them moved to the Wadala Truck Terminal. Pics/Rane Ashish

“This was the first time, we were entering in a deal with Mastan Crane, and as the cranes were standing unused, we decided to put them in use for such a major event,” he added. The hydraulic cranes were used for holding up the decorative lights on the stage from either side.

Sabhajeet Yadav
Sabhajeet Yadav, supervisor for Hussain’s firm

The company’s supervisor, Sabhajeet Yadav, said that Matsan Cranes was to pay 50 per cent of the total amount soon after the cranes reached Chowpatty on February 8. However, no token payment was made. “Representative from Mastan, said they’d give the initial 50 per cent payment through cheque on February 14. But, the stage was engulfed in fire and no cheque was received,” he added.

The cranes, which are most likely damaged beyond repair, were not insured. “We cannot afford first party insurance as the premium is almost a 100 percent more than what the third party would have to pay for insurance. Also, since business has been slack for the last few years, we have been rendered to a hand-to-mouth existence.”

Sayed Akbar Hussain

Loss of a living
Hussain bought one of the two hydraulic cranes in 1999 and the other in 2011. he is still repaying the loan on the second one with a monthly EMI of Rs 1 lakh. This, in addition to the office rent, staff salaries, maintenance of other cranes plus taking care of his family of six, make him worry even more about the loss. The smaller cranes (of which he has only three) only fetch him anywhere around R500 per hour or R2000 per day day. The hydraulic cranes, were his main stay with a daily rent of Rs 20,000.

“Our first priority is to bring them from Chowpatty to the Wadala Truck Terminal. For this alone, we have to shell out nearly Rs 5 lakh. The cost of repairs, if possible, will run into another few lakhs,” said Hussain.

Hussain said the set designers had used the lower body of the cranes as support for the wooden planks used as stairs leading to the stage. The stairs were covered with cloth. After it started, the fire spread to the wooden stairs and led to the burning of 14 tyres of both cranes and also its engine rooms.

Hussain added that both cranes had nearly 1,500 litres each of hydraulic oil and 400 litres of diesel each in their tanks. It is not clear if any of these tanks also burst.

Crane operator Sanjay Gupta, who was at the spot and witnessed the fire, said, “I saw the crane burning. I requested the police to allow me to rush to the crane, and inform the fire officials about the diesel and oil in it, but was shooed away. By the time the fire was doused, the damage was done.”

On Friday, said Hussain, Mastan Crane visited his office and gave them six small tyres for the crane valued at a total of Rs 1,30,500. “They gave us cash of Rs 1,87,000, saying that they could only help us with this and for any further compensation we should directly speak to Wizcraft. They want us to remove the crane from the location at the earliest. To do that, too, I have to arrange for funds.”

M/s Virtual Vision Private Limited is the Goregaon based company, that was hired as the main supplier for technical support. They, in turn, hired other small sub-contractors to supply, show lighting, video, LED screen, sound, trussing, generator/power distribution and crane installation. Most of this equipments has been charred beyond repair.

A senior official Virtual Vision said, “We have already put forward the list of sub-contractors and extent of damages to event organizers M/s Wizcraft, which has assured us that it will look into the same.” When asked if the sub-contractors and their equipment are fully insured for damages, officials said, “It is for the sub-contractors to decide and take insurance coverage for their respective equipments. We have no role to play in that.” He added, “You should contact Wizcraft for all clarifications,” before disconnecting the call.

Who supplied what
>> M/s Virtual Vision Pvt Ltd, Goregaon (W). Main Supplier: Lighting, LED display, video playback system, trussing system etc
>> M/s Video Wall India (sub contractor), Goregaon (E). Supplied: LED display on stage and in audience area
>> M/s Reliance Media works / Prime Focus, Goregaon (E). Supplied: Lighting inventory, Super sounds and lights
>> M/s Hari Om Lights, Grant Road. Supplied: Lighting inventory
>> M/s Star Dimension-Andheri Supplied: Smoke machine
>> M/s Vishal Light and Sound-Lalbaug Supplied: Circular trussing system
>> M/s Sound and light professional, Kandivali (W) Supplied: Sound and main trussing system for the event
>> M/s Mastan crane services — Goregaon (E) Supplied: Cranes for the event
>> M/s Laser Tech Entertainment Private Limited- Bangalore Supplied: Laser system for the event
>> M/s Rinsha Enterprises Supplied: Generators and power distributions for lighting, video, LED screen, Sound, Trussing, cranes etc

Total Cranes Deployed: 8
>> M/s Mastan Crane services 1
>> M/s Deepak Crane services 1
>> M/s Jyotirling Crane services 1
>> M/s Om Durga Crane services 1
>> M/s Subhan Crane services 1
>> M/s Super Crane services 3
>> It is learnt that M/s Deepak Crane was slightly damaged, all cranes moved out of the venue, but M/s Super Crane service 2 hydraulic cranes are burnt and still stranded at Chowpatty.

Cylinders were dumped into the sea
M/s NDS Art works limited was assigned the task of constructing the stage, which was gutted completely. An employee of the company told the police that the construction of the stage was completed two days before the event. On February 14, he said, the employees were painting the right and left side of the stage, side wall and railing using black colour plastic paint. This was completed by 6.30 pm and all the painting equipment was kept behind the stage, and as directed by a Wizcraft official, and that's where they stayed.

Sujit Arya (32), who was working for M/s AAA Morani Special Effects, for lighting the Ganapati Exchanger by fire at the venue, told investigators that he was at the event site since February 13 and was using six LPG cylinders and was assisted by four helpers. He said his work was completed by February 14 morning, and that the cylinders were kept nearly 10 feet away from the stage. Soon after the fire started, he said, that he and helpers picked the cylinders and immersed them into the sea.

The company's proprietor Akbar Morani, in his statement to the investigators, said that he had used five pyrotechnics each on the right and left side of the stage. No pyrotechnic was used at the center of the stage, and all the equipment needed for the event by his company were on the stage. The entire installation work of pyrotechnic was completed by 4 pm on the day of event and they had used pyrotechnics during the first three dances after the commencement of the show.

A team of forensic scientists attached to the chemistry department of the State Forensic Science laboratory, Kalina, visited the site on the night of the fire and collected a few burnt debris. A senior scientist attached told SMD, “The samples collected will help us ascertain the fire accelerant — diesel, petrol, kerosene or organic chemical.”

Rukmini Krishnamurthy, former director of the Kalina lab, said, “Fire burns all forensic evidence. So, usually in cases of fire, it is really challenging for forensic scientists to evaluate the cause from the burnt debri. However in some cases, some residual unburnt material (like unburnt pyrotechnics), may help the forensic scientist ascertain the chemical component used in the pyrotechnic. Nature of the fire and soot formation do lead to some indications.” When asked if they could collect unburnt pyrotechnic from the spot, the officer refused to comment.

It remains unclear if the pyrotechnic used for the function had Bureau of Indian Standards stamp and if it was either assembled or procured from a registered manufacturing unit.

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