The huge fire that gutted the stage of Maharashtra Night programme during the Make in India jamboree on Sunday night fortunately did not result in any casualties.
Despite the presence of over 10000 people including foreign dignitaries and VVIPs at the venue when the massive fire broke out, Mumbai police and the BMC's disaster control cell came in for high praise for an almost flawless job of evacuation. It was so smooth that everybody thanked god that there was no damage other than that to the image of the Maharashtra government.
But it now turns out that providence had only a bit role in avoiding what could have been a gigantic tragedy on the shores of Chowpatty. Much of the credit should be parked with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Fire Brigade.
But Firstpost can reveal that if event management company Wizcraft International's original site design was adhered to, evacuation might not have been as smooth as it was.
Wizcraft, which is already under scanner for not paying heed to fire department's advice, proposed setting up only two gates, one each for entry and exit for over 10000 people and for an event of such scale and magnitude.
In a copy of the event map in possession of Firstpost and reproduced here, Wizcraft proposed setting up a barricade around the entire venue which could have made evacuation during an accident almost impossible.
The eventuality was avoided since the BMC's disaster management cell and the fire department red-flagged the proposal. The barricades were taken off and five gates strategically installed after a joint inspection done on 12 February by additional municipal commissioner SVR Sriniwas, Pallavi Darade, Jt CP Deven Bharti, Jt CP, Traffic, Milind Bharambe and chief fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale.
Though the event management company at the centre of the controversy has claimed that all instructions were followed, senior officials from BMC and state government have raised questions over how flammable material was put under the stage and conditions on fireworks not complied with.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered the inquiry, but questions have been raised why there is no FIR even 4 days after the incident.
Talking exclusively to Firstpost Fadnavis said FIR will be lodged in two days. "If anyone is responsible for this we take strictest action."
Phone calls and text message queries to company officials till the publishing of this report went unanswered.
Did MMRDA suffer loss of revenue?
The Make in India week likely resulted in a revenue loss of Rs 21 crore for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Authority of India (MMRDA), according to a letter by RTI activist Anil Galgali.
Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), the government arm organising the event, has reportedly refused to pay up, resulting in the organisation losing out on rentals for a week at its Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) plot.
A letter in possession of Firstpost also reveals BMC had waived off all charges and license fees for the event which was held from 13th to the 18th February, resulting in further revenue loss.
Maha govt moved SC to hold event at Chowpatty
In light of Bombay high court's refusal to allow the state to hold such a huge jamboree on Girgaum Chowpatty, the Centre had moved the apex court, following which the Supreme Court on 2 February stayed the high court order and allowed the Maharashtra government to hold the event.