Concerned about the illegal hawkers and parking of two-wheelers in lanes adjoining the Pancharatna Cooperative Housing Society and Prasad Chambers, traders in Opera House have been locking horns with the police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for several years. They are now blaming the authorities for the blast on Wednesday.
The two buildings are the big diamond hubs in Opera House in south Mumbai.
After the July 2006 serial train blasts, office bearers of Pancharatna had tried to stop two-wheelers from parking at Tata Road number 1 and 2.
Around 500 two wheelers are parked in these lanes. The lanes also see many hawkers doing brisk business there.
“We have taken up the issues with the police and the BMC many times, but they never paid heed to our request,” said Naresh Mehta, secretary of Pancharatna society.
The two-wheeler vehicles parked in the lane belong to diamond brokers and traders who do not have offices and do business on freelance basis.
Sources in the diamond industry said a few of the vehicles were parked in the lanes even after the market closes and people leave.
“No one has ever come forward to claim some of the vehicles that are parked in the lanes,” said a trader requesting anonymity.
Mehta said they had requested the traffic police to declare these lanes as no parking zone, but no action was taken. Pancharatna had got support of Prasad Chambers in its initiative.
Traders said while there had been heavy security in the Pancharatna and Prasad Chambers premises, areas near the two buildings remained vulnerable due to inaction of the police and the civic body.
According to diamond traders, the blast could have been avoided if the authorities had paid attention to their concerns.
“In heavily crowded areas it is difficult to keep a watch on people’s activities,” the trader added.
“The diamond industry is one of the main targets for terrorists. Hence security in lanes surrounding building that have offices of diamond traders needs to be increased,” said another trader requesting anonymity.