Fire engines had to wait for the civic administration to pull it down * It was constructed by a Mangal Karyalay office

The wall that prevented fire engines from entering the spot.
Aadesh Choudhari
Monday’s fire in the Damu Nagar slum in Kandivali (E), which killed two people and destroyed all the 2,000 shanties, could have been contained better, but for an illegal wall fencing the Bhim Nagar slum in Damu Pada.The wall was built by a ‘Mangal Karyalay’ office to prevent slum-dwellers from sneaking into wedding functions and eating food meant for the invitees.This wall delayed fire-fighting operations. “We have no authority to break the wall. It falls under the civic administration. We could only wait for civic officials to take up the job,” said a senior fire official.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The fire brigade received the first call at 12:33 pm, and the first fire engine reached the spot at 12:52 pm. When the information about a massive fire and cylinder blasts was relayed, 16 fire tenders and 11 water tankers rushed the to spot. But the vehicles could only reach after 45 minutes due to the traffic jam on Akurli Road.After struggling with the traffic jam on Akurli Road, the illegal wall further delayed their operation. While a team of firemen started spraying water from the periphery, the wall proved to be a biggest hurdle.A fire official said that if fire officers were to have broken the wall, it could have led to a situation they couldn’t handle.”Hence it was better that firemen waited for the civic authorities to take up the job. Though civic officials reached the spot and pulled down the wall partially to make way for the fire engines, the hilly terrain did not help either,” he said.”Our men had started spraying water to control the fire from all the small entries to the slum. But the cylinder blast was so strong that by the time we could take control, everything was destroyed,” fire official added.S R Gaikwad, assistant commissioner of R – south ward, said that when fire officers sought help, we immediately helped them with pulling down the wall.”Yes, fire officers did seek help for pulling down the wall. We promptly responded to it, after which they could start their operations,” said Gaikwad. Rs, 3800 compensation is rubbing salt to injuries, say slum-dwellersDamu Nagar slum-dwellers were upset with the state government on Wednesday when they were handed over cheques of Rs 3,800 per family as a compensation. Residents were enraged and tempers were flying when they came to know about the amount. “The state government is rubbing salt on the injuries of the slum-dwellers. Officers from the collector’s office came to hand over cheques Rs 3,800, with which one cannot even buy any respectable household item. But some residents controlled them from taking extreme steps,” said a slum-dweller.Sachin Sawant, spokesperson of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, said that there was complete lack of co-ordination. “We have demanded homes and Rs 1 lakh compensation for each family. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has shown complete insensitivity. He did not even visit the spot. He did the same thing with the Malwani hooch tragedy. While thousands of people are rendered homeless, they are giving such a meagre amount”, said Sawant.

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Illegal wall delayed fire operation in Kandivali slum: Official