MUMBAI: A day after PM Narendra Modi called ‘Make In India’ the largest brand the country has ever created, a massive fire on Sunday erupted at a cultural programme, which was a part of the ongoing Make in India Week here, raising doubts over the government’s preparedness.
The fire erupted around 8.20 pm at ‘Maharashtra Night’, held at the iconic Girgaum Chowpaty, almost an hour after the event began. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who monitored the evacuation, told media representatives that no one was injured in the incident and everyone was safely evacuated.
The fire was noticed below the stage when a troupe led by actor Pooja Sawant was performing lavani, a folk dance. It immediately spread all over the stage because of strong winds from the Arabian Sea. The stage was gutted within minutes leading to panic among the performers.
Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao, Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and representatives of 60 countries were present at the venue at the time the fire broke out. At least 10,000 spectators were also present at the venue.
Actor Amitabh Bachchan had recited a poem on the stage 10 minutes before the fire erupted. Music director Atul Gogavale, of the Ajay-Atul duo, said he noticed a jerk (spark of crackers) in front of Bachchan’s face when he was reciting the poem.
“I have conducted many shows, but never saw a jerk so close to a performer. It is possible that winds from the sea caused it. I noticed that something was wrong and saw Amitji too was taken aback by the jerk though he continued his performance,” Gogavale said.
According to an eyewitness, bursting of firecrackers caused the fire which spread fast because of the winds. However, Fadnavis said the immediate reason for the blaze was yet to be established.
The Mumbai fire brigade’s 14 fire tenders and 10 tankers doused the fire within half-an-hour. The police managed to evacuate the spectators through all five gates.