Thane: Security of Bhiwandi Godowns Questioned as Fire Incidents Continue; MMRDA’s Promise of Fire Fighting System Remains Unfulfilled

Bhiwandi, 8th January 2024: Despite being a vital commercial hub with numerous warehouses, Bhiwandi in Thane district faces ongoing challenges in fire safety, raising concerns about both material and human losses. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had announced the establishment of a dedicated firefighting system in the area, but the promised measures remain elusive, leaving the security of godowns reliant on external firefighting resources.

Bhiwandi, once renowned for its handloom and power loom factories, has transformed into the warehousing epicentre of India, hosting facilities for e-commerce, chemical, and various other industries. The proliferation of warehouses has turned Bhiwandi into a crucial financial centre, accommodating a vast range of goods, including essential items, electronics, and more.

Despite its commercial significance, Bhiwandi witnesses frequent fire incidents in its warehouses, further exacerbated by the absence of an independent firefighting system. The densely packed warehouses pose a high risk, with the potential for fires to rapidly spread to neighbouring units. Currently, firefighting efforts heavily depend on Thane, Bhiwandi, and Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporations, leading to delays and substantial losses.

The district administration had initially proposed a dedicated fire station for Bhiwandi, recognizing the urgent need for enhanced firefighting capabilities. However, the envisioned solution did not materialize, and the situation persisted. Subsequently, the MMRDA made promises to establish an independent firefighting system, yet the practical implementation remains uncertain.

Recent incidents, such as the fire in a chemical godown in Kalher village, destroying multiple warehouses, and a tragic incident in Owli village where a cotton godown fire claimed a life, underscore the pressing need for effective firefighting measures.

The MMRDA had approved plans for a separate fire station in Bhiwandi in 2020. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the execution of the proposal. Despite the resumption of activities during the pandemic, the status of MMRDA’s commitment remains unclear, leaving the region vulnerable to fire-related risks.

While the MMRDA initiated a recruitment process for key firefighting positions, including Chief Fire Officer and Chief Fire Superintendent, the subsequent progress and implementation of the firefighting system remain unclear. Attempts to obtain information from MMRDA officials regarding the status of the proposed firefighting measures have yielded no response.