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Bhandup fire inquiry: Report seeks probe against fire officers, FIR against mall

Eleven persons died on March 26 after a fire broke out at Dreams Mall in Bhandup. The BMC had set up an inquiry that was conducted by Deputy Municipal Commissioner P S Rahangdale, who submitted the report before Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal last week.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 12, 2021 12:40:40 am
A major fire broke out at late night in Sunrise hospital of Dreams mall on LBS road Bhandup west.10 people died and 70 patients including seven on ventilator support were rescued and shifted to a different hospital. (Express Photo by Deepak Joshi)

An inquiry into the Dreams Mall fire at Bhandup instituted by the BMC has recommended a departmental inquiry against former chief fire officer Shashikant Kale and assistant divisional fire officer Rajendra Ghadge for dereliction of duty.

The report has also directed civic officials to file an FIR against the mall, Sunrise Hospital and private agency Poona Corporation, which gave false fire audit reports to the mall.

Eleven persons died on March 26 after a fire broke out at Dreams Mall in Bhandup. The BMC had set up an inquiry that was conducted by Deputy Municipal Commissioner P S Rahangdale, who submitted the report before Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal last week.

On Tuesday, Chahal accepted the report and directed the Additional Municipal Commissioner of western suburb to submit an action taken report (ATR) on recommendations made in the inquiry report in one month.

The report states that on November 2020, a notice was issued to Dreams Mall for non-compliance of fire safety system by assistant divisional fire officer Rajendra Ghadge. However, later Ghadge accepted the compliance documents submitted by the mall without physical inspection to check the claims made by the mall.

The report stated that on March 12, 2021, Rajendra Ghadge submitted all the documents related to fire safety compliance in Dreams Mall and fire audit report from the private agency Poona Corporation to deputy chief fire officer of zone 5.

It further stated that then chief fire officer Shashikant Kale violated the fire brigade’s order of 2018 under which the notice issued to any establishment for non-compliance of fire safety norms should be issued by the sign of chief fire officer as he is ‘nominated officer’. In the Dreams Mall case, when a notice was issued in November 2020 for violation of fire safety norms, it was issued by Ghadge.

“When asked about why the procedure of 2018 was not followed, it was found that after the fire in City Central Mall, Mumbai Central, Kale had orally asked all the officers to send notices with their sign without taking approval from the municipal commissioner. It is a violation of an order issued in 2018 which states only the CFO can send notices,” reads the report. Kale is currently facing inquiry for submitting fake details to get a presidential medal.

The fire at Dreams Mall led to the death of 11 patients at Sunrise Hospital located on its third floor. The fire brigade took more than 12 hours to douse the fire. Officials said that while Sunrise Hospital got the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the fire brigade, except the fire alarm and smoke detectors, no firefighting systems like sprinklers, hydrants, hose pipes were operational.

The report has stated that a private firm — a licensed agency Poona Corporation tasked with ensuring the mall’s fire safety compliance — had submitted a report that the firefighting equipment of the mall was working, and all compliance was made for the period between July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, but the preliminary report states that on the day of the fire, none of the firefighting equipment was working.

The report also recommended that the licence of Poona Corporation be cancelled by the Director of the Maharashtra Fire Services and asked the Chief Fire Officer to file a criminal case against the company.

The report recommended action against the banquet owner on the second floor of the mall who had stored 45 LPG cylinders despite having permission to only store two LPG cylinders.

It blamed the mall and hospital management for ignoring warnings from the Fire Brigade and the BMC and not taking corrective action. “It is recommended to cut off the water and electric supply of the mall and file a criminal case against the owners and directors of Dreams Mall and Sunrise Hospital’s owners Ms Privilege Healthcare since they are to be blamed for the fire incident,” stated the report.

Rahangdale in the report has said that the existing SOP be tweaked to adjust to Covid-19 pandemic situation. He also recommended that a new Fire Hazard Response and Mitigation Plan be created for Mumbai.

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