Pune|December 7, 2015: The holiday started with a massive fire at the Pune Municipal Corporation’s anti-encroachment department’s depot on Handewadi Road at Hadapsar. This is the second time the same depot has been set ablaze within a year thus raising questions on whether it’s being done deliberately.
The depot is used by PMC to hold the material seized during the anti-encroachment drives conducted by the department in the city. This is where the fire broke at around 4 AM on Sunday. The entire material inside was soon on fire and the flames were so major that they could be seen coming out of the depot from a far distance.
The fire brigade soon arrived at the destination but had a tough time controlling the fire. Prashant Ranpise, chief fire officer of PMC, said, “We got the call around 4 am and managed to douse the flames only around 9.15— that’s how intense the flames were. We need two fire tenders and two water tankers to gain control over the blaze.”
When asked about the possible reason behind the incident, Ranpise said, “By the time our team reached the spot, the fire had spread and it was difficult to find the cause. There was material inside the depot which was also burning, causing the flames to spread faster.”
Last year, a similar fire had broken out at the depot in the first week of November, causing a lot of damage. According to PMC officials, it is a space reserved for the municipal corporation and there were plans to create a vegetable market or garden there, before it became a dumping spot for seized material. With this incident, questions are being raised if the fire is being started deliberately to move the depot to another site.
Opposition leaders have demanded an inquiry. Said Arvind Shinde, opposition leader at PMC, “After PMC seizes material in anti-encroachment drives, it is the responsibility of the civic administration to protect that material. However, with two fires in a year and questions being raised, the civic body should conduct an inquiry and not shy away from its responsibility. Necessary steps should also be taken to avoid such incidents.”
When contacted, Madhav Jagtap, head of PMC’s anti-encroachment department, said, “I have already given orders for a police complaint to be lodged. Following that, an inquiry will be conducted to find out if fire was started deliberately.”