Kurla bldg that caught fire was declared dilapidated last year
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had in June 2019 declared Mehtab Cooperative Housing Society in Kurla, which caught fire on Friday, dilapidated and issued notices to its residents to vacate the building.
Residents, however, said that they had started the revamp procedure, but continued to stay in the building as they were yet to arrange for an alternative accommodation.
A level-3 major fire broke out in the ground-plus-two-storey building on Friday. Although no one was hurt, the fire gutted parts of the building.
According to BMC officials, the internal firefighting mechanism in two of the three wings of the building was dysfunctional. Manish Walunj, assistant municipal commissioner, L-ward, said, “After an audit in June 2019 , we had declared Mehtab building a dilapidated structure. Immediately after that, we issued warning notices to all its residents asking them to vacate the building immediately. But even after that the residents preferred to stay there.”
Walunj said it is dangerous to reside in buildings which are declared dilapidated.BMC had declared 21 such old buildings dilapidated in Kurla in 2019, of which five are in the same area.
Residents of all three wings of Mehtab building had also decided to redevelop the building themselves and the procedure was going on, because of which they were not ready to vacate the structure.
Nasir Hussain, a resident, said, “Yes, we have received notices but we thought that was just a routine procedure of BMC. The process of redevelopment was going on, but before that we had to identify temporary accommodations, without which it was difficult to vacate the building.”
Walunj also said that a short-circuit in electrical equipment could have caused the fire on Friday. However, the Mumbai Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire is still being investigated. P Rahangdale, chief fire officer, said “Investigation is going on and as of now we do not have any concrete conclusion [of the cause of the fire].”
Meanwhile, three days after the incident, residents of Mehtab building are still awaiting rehabilitation and they alleged that BMC was not keen on rehabilitating them.
The trousseau purchased by a would-be bride was burnt in the fire at Mehtab building on Friday. One of the residents, Rais Ahmed Sheik, had completed shopping for his daughter’s wedding scheduled in February. “All the bridal shopping was gutted in the fire. The wedding is just around the corner and we don’t know what to do,” said Sheikh, who is also worried about how we will repay the loan he took for the wedding.