Sakinaka shop fire: Electric circuit was faulty, says probe

Report blames senior sanitary inspector, four other officials; all five likely to face inquiry

Written by Dipti Singh | Mumbai | Published: January 11, 2018 1:51:09 am
Electric circuit was faulty, says probe The fire at Bhanu farsan shop killing 12 workers December 18. Express Archive

A senior sanitary inspector of L (Kurla, Sakinaka) ward is likely to be suspended, while four others from the ward’s building and factory department are likely to face inquiry in the Sakinaka shop fire incident. The final investigation report released on Wednesday states that “defective electric circui” was the cause of the fire that engulfed Bhanu farsan shop at Khairani road in Sakinaka in the wee hours of December 18, killing 12 workers.

The probe report states: “As per observations done during site inspection, circumstantial evidences of the premises and statements of eye witnesses the probable cause of fire is defective electric circuit.”

The report further stated that electric sparks from switches / wirings came in contact with combustible and inflammable materials such as snacks, edible oil, diesel furnace, packaging materials and a wooden loft.

The 20-page report highlights that the electric insulation of the shop must have been damaged due to rodents in the store room or due to excessive current flowing through the circuit continuously for a long time (overloading) or by aging of insulation material which might have become hard and brittle and may eventually have broken away from the conductor and triggered the mishap.

The report states that an explanation was sought from the senior sanitary inspector Jagdish Gyandev Sawant of L ward on why inspection of the farsan shop was not conducted. It was found that on two occasions, in November 2015 and August 2016, the inspection of Mahalaxmi farsan mart and one Madina restaurant was conducted on Khairani road and the owners were prosecuted, but why was Bhanu farsan shop not inspected, the report states.”

“In his reply, Sawant said that during both visits in the area, Bhanu farsan shop was locked. He also said that no complaint was made against the shop by either residents or corporators of the ward. Hence an inspection could not be conducted. His reply was found unsatisfactory by the assistant municipal commissioner of L ward, who fixed responsibility for the lapse leading to the mishap and recommended his suspension,” said a senior BMC official.

The report has given a clean chit to the licence department and Health officer of the ward. “Even if the owner had registered his shop with the shops and establishments department, he never made any application for authorised licence to carry out the trade activity or prepare/cook farsan hence the officials were completely unaware of the irregularities,” said an official of the shops and establishments department of L ward.

However, inquiry officer Deputy Municipal Commissioner (BMC central purchase department) Rambhau Dhas mentioned the suspension of senior sanitary inspector Sawant as recommended by Ajit Kumar Ambi, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of L ward, for his failure to inspect the place as the farsan shop continued to operate illegally without a health licence and No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department.

There was a dispute over demolition of Bhanu farsan shop, as it was believed the plot where the shop is located was declared a slum in 1978” “If the said plot was declared a slum, then it comes under deputy collector and not BMC. Hence it was the duty of officials of the building and factory department to ascertain if the shop comes under the declared slum plot,” said Ambi.

According to the report, officials of the building and factory department were to ascertain whether the said shop is located on or is part of city survey report no 155 which comes under the jurisdiction of deputy collector. However they failed to do so.”

“The four officials were supposed to ascertain that and demolish the illegal wooden loft constructed in the farsan shop, which was one of the factors for the fire to spread,” said Ambi.

According to the probe report, assistant engineer (building and factory) Pravin Bharat Vasawe, designated officer and assistant engineer (building and factory) Rahul Ravanrao Marekar, sub engineer (building and factory) Amol Patil and mukadam Vishwanath Daji Pawar will now face an inquiry.

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