A day after the owners of a scrap shop and their employee were arrested for the cylinder blast that destroyed part of a century-old building near Bhendi Bazaar, they confessed that their negligence had led to the explosion.
Preliminary investigations by the fire department have confirmed that Dwarkadas building collapsed because of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) cylinder explosion. Five people died in the collapse.
The ward office on Friday served a notice to the scrap shop for keeping inflammable and hazardous chemicals without the requisite licence under Section 394 (4) of the BMC Act.
“Every shop needs a separate licence to store inflammable and hazardous chemicals, which this shop did not have,” said a senior civic officer, on condition of anonymity.
The corporation will now survey the area to check if other shops have proper licences.
“The survey will start next week. While giving special licences, the civic body gives a prescribed limit of items that can be stored in the store. If even if they [shop owners] have flouted that limit, they will be given notices,” said Chanda Jadhav, assistant municipal commissioner, C ward.
The incident took place on Thursday morning when Mohammad Hassan, 22, an employee at the ground-floor scrap shop at Dwarkadas building was emptying a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) cylinder through a pipe into a water tank. The pipe slipped out and the gas escaped, causing the blast causing shops next door and three rooms on the first floor to crash.
The police arrested the owners, Mohammad Ghani, 39, and Rihazul Hassan, 49, and Hassan and booked them for negligence.
During questioning, they reportedly confessed that it was due to Hassan’s negligence while emptying the cylinder that the gas leaked, said Inspector S Bagwe of the JJ Marg police station. “Based on further investigations, we will prepare a charge sheet,” he added. Bagwe refused to reveal the statements of the arrested accused saying the matter is being investigated.
“We have recovered 30 cylinders from the shop and will now check the entire area to find out if there are other shops in the vicinity that too store illegal cylinders,” added Bagwe.
The scrap shop had CNG and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders that were removed from old taxis being phased out by the government. They would dilute the gas from these cylinders by passing it through a tank of water and then sell the cylinder cases.
Fire brigade officials said only after the detailed investigation report is ready will they decide whether to invoke the Fire Prevention and Safety Act against the shop owners.
The three men were produced before a local court on Friday and remanded to two days in police custody.