A massive fire at the Income Tax (investigations) officer in Scindia house, Ballard Estate at 4;30 pm on Friday has suspected enveloped important files related to defaulters like Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
The fire brigade department said that dousing operation was challenging as the massive amount of files and wooden work inside the premises became fodder to fire. No casualties were reported.
The fire that covered around 12000 sq feet on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the five-storied building. Six people were rescued from the building.
“We have parked two fire engines on the spot as precautionary measures,” said Deputy Fire Officer Rajendra Chaudhary, “At least 120 firemen were pushed to service for the fire-fighting operations.
Many cupboards had fallen on the floors, and we opened them, we found that the papers and files inside were ablaze. It was time-consuming time to extinguish the fire. Each floor of the building is around 4000 sqft.”
The cause of the fire hasn’t been declared by the fire brigade, but activists smell sabotages as the offices charred contained important files pertaining to the investigation into the Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, and Mehul Choksi cases. Police said the investigations are on.
“As the building housed the investigation cell of the Income Tax department, it had files and documents pertaining to cases that were being probed in Mumbai and Maharashtra,” said a senior Income Tax official. “They have all been burned. We are not authorised to divulge information about the documents and the cases we are probing. It will take us time to take the stock of the damage.”
“We are taking statements and investigating the cause of the fire,” said senior police inspector of MRA Marg police station Sukhlal Varpe, adding, “People say they saw a short circuit. We cannot comment on the intention of sabotage.”
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) which is the planning authority of Scindia House to carry structural audit before allowing the department to start working there again.
The Income Tax Department on Sunday quashed reports that claimed that records and documents related to the investigation of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi were destroyed in the fire in the Mumbai office.
Taking to Twitter, the department said, “News reports appearing in some sections of media alleging that records/documents relating to investigation of Nirav Modi/Mehul Choksi have been destroyed in the Scindia House fire in IT Office, Mumbai are completely false & misdirected (Sic).”
The fire broke out in the Income Tax office in South Mumbai on Friday, but no casualties were reported
The blaze started on the third floor of the I-T office located in multi-storeyed Scindia House.
“Five fire engines, four water tankers along with adequate number of fire brigade personnel were rushed to the site to douse the flames,” the official said.
No injuries were reported, but one person trapped on the second floor of the commercial building was rescued by firefighters, he said.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, the official said.
The building, a well-known landmark in South Mumbai, also houses the office of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).