BMC razes shop awnings after fire

Blaze spread due to monsoon covers that store owners were supposed to take down in October

Mumbai: A fire in a shop on V.P. Road in Vile Parle (West) on Tuesday resulted in a spot demolition drive by the Brihanamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), as illegal monsoon awnings outside 30 commercial establishments were found to have caused the fire to spread.

Fire department officials said the fire broke out at Hari Steel sometime after 10.30 a.m. It was brought under control by a single fire tender within an hour.

Harish Shetty, the owner of the shop, said, “There were just two employees in the shop at the time of the incident. I have suffered a huge loss. I had taken many orders from customers. I don’t know how to cancel them.”

Officials probe cause

Fire officials suspect the blaze was caused by a short circuit, but are investigating the matter. Senior inspector Shantanu Pawar of the Santacruz police station said the fire department will prepare a report after establishing the reason for the fire.

“Following this, we will initiate action as required, if any negligence is found,” Mr. Pawar said.

Corporator Aneesh Naval Makwaaney, who visited the spot, was told by the people who had gathered that the awnings caused the fire to spread. “I immediately asked the local ward office to take action, and the structures were demolished.”

Removal deadline

The shop owners put up the awnings every year to protect the establishments from rain. In this case, BMC officials said the owners had taken permission to put them up from July to October. But they did not remove the structure after that.

“I was planning to remove the awnings, but had to keep them up because of the rain in December,” the owner of Veener Plywoods said. Employees of Areen Plywood said the demolition had cost them Rs. 5 lakh, as it had damaged the shop’s facade.

“About 200 to 300 shop owners had taken permission to put up the awnings, but only five shops followed the order and removed them in time,” BMC junior engineer Amol Bomne said.

This article was published in The Hindu. Click here.

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