It has been alleged that chemicals are stored in the Kalbadevi building illegally; Zaveri Bazar Welfare Association member claims to have often spoken to the civic body about this
The level 3 fire in Rangawala Building was extinguished early on Friday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will inspect the building that caught fire at Kalbadevi early on Friday, after it was alleged that chemicals are stored in it illegally. One of the four owners of the building has denied this.
According to the Mumbai Fire Brigade report, Rangawala Building, known as Chain Bazar building near the Mumbadevi Temple, Kalbadevi caught fire around 1.38 am on Friday. “The fire started on the ground floor in a cardboard box shop. Then it spread to the other floors. The cause of the fire seems to be a short circuit. The exact cause will be clear after investigation,” said a Fire Brigade official. The level 3 fire was extinguished at around 8 am on Friday. No casualty was reported in the incident, however, one Parag Chakankar, 40, was injured.
‘Factories in the building’
A member of Zaveri Bazar Welfare Association, Hitesh Kothari, said, “Buildings in this area have factories to make gold ornaments. Acid is stored there. We have repeatedly spoken to civic authorities regarding illegal factories and unsafe electric wires in the area.”
Vijay Chokshi, a resident and one of the owners of the building, has denied this. “There is nothing illegal in the building. I am one of the owners. If anything is illegal, why would I live with my family in the building? Me and another owner have, in fact, submitted a proposal for the redevelopment of the building as it is 70-years-old. The Maharashtra Housing And Area Development Authority replied to us saying they need a proposal from all 4 owners. We submitted proposals in January 2023.”
Chokshi said, “Around 1.30 m, a watchman called me and told me there was a fire in the ground floor gallery. I immediately called the Fire Brigade whose personnel reached in a few minutes. They rescued me, my wife, and my daughter via the adjacent building. Fire fighters also rescued another 13 people from the building. They are workers from the offices in the building. There are 4 rooms on each floor of the building.”
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of C ward Uddhav Chandashive said, “We don’t have complaints about illegal factories. Regarding illegal electricity wiring, we have already started taking action as per the High Court order. We will inspect the spot. If we find anything illegal we will take further action.”
Part of building damaged
According to the Disaster Control Report, the Fire Brigade rescued 50 to 60 people via an adjacent building as a safety protocol. Part of the ceiling and staircase fell on the first and second floors. According to the Fire Brigade official, “The fire-fighting operation was conducted with the help of 12 jets and 8 water tankers.”
In May 2015, Gokul Niwas, a building in Kalbadevi, collapsed after a fire. The chemicals and mobile batteries stored on the upper floors of the building had created havoc. Four officers of Mumbai Fire Brigade including Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesrikar died in the incident.
“As this is a cessed building, MHADA will decide whether the building is habitable or not,” said BMC officials. Executive Engineer of MHADA R B Shinde did not respond to calls and messages.