The shopkeepers said they have written to the BMC multiple times
Dreams Mall in Bhandup West has been shut since a massive fire broke out in 2021, killing 11. Pic/Sameer Markande
Store owners at a Bhandup mall have complained that the three-storey structure, which has seen two fires since 2021, is in a pitiable condition and they have been dealing with mounting losses while not being allowed to ply their trade. The mall has been shut since the first blaze broke out on the intervening night of March 25 and 26, 2021 at Sunrise Hospital housed on the third floor of the mall, killing 11 patients. The shopkeepers said they have written to the BMC multiple times.
There were 1,050 shops in the mall. In the 2021 blaze, 450 shops were burnt, but 600 are still intact. Shop owners have not been allowed to use the latter for the past two years. Yet, property tax and sewerage tax are being levied by the BMC. The mounting burden of property tax, and retrospectively billed sewerage tax from 2014, is akin to theft of property, a shopkeeper stated in a report.
It is time the administration takes cognisance of these complaints, and shopkeepers are given their space to operate or asked to operate out of elsewhere.
Also Read: Dreams Mall fire: 'Mall must satisfy conditions to get NOC'
While one can understand the space being shut because there may be a stability problem, there also has to be some response to the human issue as so many shopkeepers must be struggling to feed their families, for no fault of theirs.
Besides these numerous committees that are set up after incidents to probe matters, equal importance must be paid to people who suffer because of the lapses of others. There has to be some compensation for them. Instead, we find that they are being billed after having to contend with such losses.
Some solution and relief needs to be given, so that they have an opportunity to earn their livelihood once again. Let us push towards addressing the humane aspect along with the blame game and structural questions that arise.