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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Bandra slum fire: Demolition to continue today

The fire has spread to the ticket counter of Bandra railway station and passengers have been evacuated.

mumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2017 00:09 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur & Aayushi Pratap
Geetanjali Gurlhosur & Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
Officials said 16 fire tenders were pressed into service.
Officials said 16 fire tenders were pressed into service.(HT Photo)

A fire broke out in a slum near Bandra station (East) on Thursday, as gas cylinders exploded during a demolition drive by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Garib Nagar.

The blaze, which started around 3pm, soon spread, burning down a few shanties and damaging a part of a railway ticket booking office in the vicinity. The fire was brought under control at 7.20pm. Two firemen and one resident from a slum in the area suffered minor injuries.

More than 50 structures including shops were demolished, as part of the action to the area within 10-m of Tansa pipeline. Alka Sasane, assistant municipal commissioner, said, “Around 350 structures from Garib Nagar are to be demolished over three days. Residents of 35 structures are eligible for rehabilitation. We had sent notices to residents even in 2015. Such fires are caused by residents to stop the demolition drive. The drive will continue on Friday as these shanties are illegal.”

While some residents said they received a notice late Wednesday night, others said they weren’t intimated. “We didn’t receive any letter from the BMC asking us to move out,” said resident Noorjahan Shaikh.

Several residents complained the civic officials didn’t stop the demolition, even though they sought time to shift their belongings such as electrical appliances, jewellery and cash. “As it was afternoon, a lot of us were cooking and had no time to shift our belongings,” said Shabana Qureshi, 38.

PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer, said 16 fire tenders and 10 water tankers were pressed into service. “Fire was confined to electric installations, scrapped material such as plastic and garments, kerosene, LPG cylinders and wooden furniture in the hutments,” said Rahangdale.

Harbour railway services from on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Bandra-Andheri and Vashi-Andheri were shut down from 4.25pm as slum dwellers threw their belongings on the tracks. The services resumed at 4.40pm.

Arvind Ghadge, 53, a fireman working with the Bandra office, fell from a height of 20feet while dousing the fire. He was rushed to civic-run Bhabha Hospital in Bandra. Sayeed Rizan, 41, who was trying to help the fireman, also fell to the ground and got injured.

Alam Rajput, who owns a store in the area, said he received a notice on October 23. “This is the first time such a huge demolition drive has taken place,” said Rajput.

Officials said people gathered on the railway foot overbridge created a nuisance by taking pictures and blocking free movement. Police personnel cordoned off parts of the bridge. The fire was one level short of Level 5, which is the highest level and requires all resources and fire brigades from other wards to be deployed, said a fire official.

Last month, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gave his nod to the BMC’s plan to build a 39-km cycling and jogging track along the Tansa pipeline. Work will be undertaken in phases as encroachments along the pipeline must be removed. In an earlier survey, the BMC had identified more than 15,000 structures to be demolished along the pipeline.

Inputs by Aroosa Ahmed

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 16:56 IST

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