Firm owner, complex manager in judicial custody

Coimbatore City Police on Friday arrested two persons in connection with the fire that that killed four women and injured nine persons at Vigneshwar Cresta, a commercial complex, at the Lakshmi Mills Junction on Thursday.

City Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan told newspersons that Mohanakrishnan, owner of Sharekhan franchisee and complex manager Baskar were arrested under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).

Special teams have been formed to nab the building owner, Adithya, who is absconding, Mr. Viswanathan said. The arrested were produced before the Judicial Magistrate and remanded to judicial custody till May 10.

Absence of emergency exit, fire extinguishers, provision for water hydrants and narrow staircase were believed to be the reasons for the loss of lives and injuries. Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) inverters, batteries and interior decoration materials are suspected to have intensified the fire. However, the cause of fire is still under investigation, Mr. Viswanathan said.

Police are also probing whether the staff of the affected offices were not able to escape quickly because the bio-metric access/exit system failed as a result of the fire cutting power supply to it.

On whether all the four women were charred, Mr. Viswanathan said only the post-mortem report would reveal whether any of them died because of inhaling smoke.

The city police would write to the district administration, Fire and Rescue Services Department, Local Planning Authority and Corporation to identify buildings without emergency exits and other building rule violations that endangered the safety of people and take corrective measures.

Notice served

The Coimbatore Local Planning Authority has served notice to the owner of Vigneshwar Cresta. The notice served under the provisions of Town and Country Planning Act gives the building owner 30 days to respond.

However, the district administration is now invoking the powers of the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) under Section 133 (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code wherein the RDO is empowered to expedite the process of serving notice, seeking explanation and even issuing orders for demolition, Collector M. Karunagaran told presspersons here on Friday.

The LPA notice was served on Thursday on the grounds that the building plan was approved as an industrial building with ground plus one floor.

However, it was used as a commercial building without approval. Two more floors were constructed without permission. Official sources added that even the ground and first floors were not constructed as per the approved plan.

The Coimbatore Corporation is also studying the sanctioned approvals. “If there are violations, action will be taken,” said Corporation Commissioner G. Latha.

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