A major fire that broke out in a posh building named Lotus Business Park in Andheri, a western suburb of Mumbai, left a fireman named Nitin Ivalekar dead.
Ivalekar's wife demanded a written assurance from the government that the deceased fireman’s family would be financially looked after.
While the state government has compensated the Ivalekar family, filmmaker Rakesh Roshan, who owns property in the ill-fated building, has gotten together with the other property owners of the building to offer a substantial token compensation to the fireman’s bereaved wife.
"What happened was a terrible accident and ‘not sheer bad luck’, as a section of the media has wrongly quoted me as saying," says Rakesh Roshan. "A word like ‘luck’ reduces the enormity of the terrible occurrence. What happened was beyond bad luck. And when we heard about the brave fireman’s death and his wife and child, we were deeply shaken."
"We’ve decided to give the wife a cheque of Rs 15 lakh," continues Roshan. "It is nothing to compensate for his death but it will help her with her son’s education.”
Roshan feels such accidents should not be treated as the government’s problem alone.
"In a high-rise building, there are many floors owned by people, who can afford to compensate personally for damages if and when such an accident occurs. There were 22 floors in the building were the fire broke out. The fire broke out on the 21st floor but the firemen could only reach up to the 17th floor. What if the building was taller? There were fire-safety equipment in the building but nobody seemed aware of how to use them. Given the risky situation, many lives could have been lost. One man did lose his life, and died trying to save property and lives," he adds.
The filmmaker says he only owns property in Lotus Business Park.
“We have no active business concerns in the building. Miraculously, no damage has occurred within the property because of the fire-proof windows. We are told we can re-occupy our property in two months but we need to do some serious thinking about safety measures in high-rise buildings,” he says.
Image: The fire at Lotus Business Park in suburban Andheri. Photograph: Courtesy: Sheetal Alva