Dreams Mall fire: BMC to conduct structural survey, probe on

Updated on Mar 05, 2022 09:49 PM IST

The fire was reported around 7:56 pm on Friday and was doused by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) at 4:56 am on Saturday after a nine-hour long firefighting operation.

Last year on March 26, a major fire erupted in the Sunrise Hospital on the fourth floor of Dreams Mall, killing 11 people. (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
Last year on March 26, a major fire erupted in the Sunrise Hospital on the fourth floor of Dreams Mall, killing 11 people. (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
ByPratip Acharya

Mumbai: The

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to hold a joint meeting and carry out a structural inspection survey of the Dreams Mall in Bhandup to decide the future course of action on this property.

On Friday night, a massive fire (Level 4) broke out in the mall. The incident was reported around 7:56 pm on Friday and was doused by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) at 4:56 am on Saturday morning after a nine-hour long firefighting operation. This is the second fire incident reported at Dreams Mall since 2021. Last year on March 26, a major fire erupted in the Sunrise Hospital on the fourth floor of Dreams Mall, killing 11 people.

“As per our preliminary findings, the fire originated on the ground floor and later spread to other parts of the building. Electrical ducts and cables were hanging around the building due to which flames intensified and spread towards the third and fourth floors on Friday,” said Hemant Parab, Chief Fire Officer (CFO).

Parab said that last year also the fire originated from the first floor and later spread to the higher floors inside the building.

“The entire building was engulfed with thick smoke as the mall was shut for a long time. Therefore, firefighting operations became difficult for us. We are yet to ascertain the exact reason behind the fire. However an investigation will follow,” said Parab.

Since the March 26 fire, the mall was shut and the electricity and water supply inside the building was also cut. Officials of the Mumbai Fire Brigade said that there was no one inside the mall due to which no casualty was reported.

“This is the second major fire incident in this building in just one year. Only because the mall was shut, some serious loss of lives was averted. The latest fire broke out in a separate section of the building and as per our preliminary findings the fire might have originated from a shock circuit,” said Ajitkumar Ambi, assistant municipal commissioner from S ward, where the mall is located.

“The owners have not paid property tax, water tax for many years now. They haven’t also carried out a structural audit. We will be bringing these topics to decide the fate of this building,” said Ambi.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, BMC officials said that they will call out for a joint meeting with the owners of the building along with other BMC departments like MFB, Building Proposal and Mumbai Police.

Senior officials of the BMC said that Friday’s fire originated in a separate portion of the mall that was unaffected during the March 2021 fire. According to them, following the latest fire incident, around 60 percent of the building is now in a dilapidated state.

The operation of the mall is being overseen by an administrator appointed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) which is a corporate authority incorporated for dealing with disputes. Deepak Thakre was appointed as the new administrator for Dreams Mall in February 2022 after former NCLT administrator, Rahul Shahastrabuddhe, was released.

“I have been appointed recently in February and I am yet to take over the charge completely as I need some time to go through the documents as well. I am visiting the site tomorrow and only after then I will be able to make a comment on the same,” said Thakre.

When HT contacted former administrator, Rahul Shahastrabuddhe he said, “My releasing letter from NCLT is already public and I have handed over my charges on February 19, which is why I don’t have the authorisation to speak on this issue anymore.”

After the fire in 2021, BMC Commissioner, Iqbal Singh Chahal had appointed a probe committee to investigate the incident. The report blamed both the mall and hospital administration for the fire incident and also pointed out that the fire safety mechanisms including sprinklers and extinguishers were non-operational. The BMC panel had also proposed to file a criminal case against a private agency for giving a false fire audit report to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Shrikanth Swaminathan, a shopowner and member of the shopkeeper’s association, said that it is “surprising” how can there be a fire inside a building which doesn’t have an electric connection.

“There are more than 1,060 shops inside the mall and all of them are shut for one year now. It is surprising that there was another fire of such a large scale,” said Swaminathan.

He further said that the mall started in 2009 and was constructed by HDIL infrastructures. Till 2015, it was the builder’s responsibility to pay property taxes to the corporation.

“The shop owners have been paying regular property bills since 2015 and the outstanding amount is what the builder has defaulted. Several litigation cases were filed against the builder as well following which the NCLT appointed an administrator to look after the mall,” he said.

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