%OFF 9 of fam­ily killed in blaze at And­heri med­i­cal shop In­dia’s ru­ral buy­ers in ur­ban mode

TRAGIC In­fant, preg­nant woman among vic­tims; short cir­cuit prob­a­ble cause

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - San­jana Bhalerao san­jana.bhalerao1@hin­dus­tan­times.com Zia Haq zia.haq@hin­dus­tan­times.com

A dis­as­ter was wait­ing to strike over­crowded Juhu galli — with its nar­row lanes and res­i­den­tial struc­tures on top of restau­rants, gar­ment and med­i­cal shops — and early on Thurs­day it did.

Around 6am, a fire, which en­gulfed a med­i­cal store, al­most wiped out an en­tire fam­ily sleep­ing in rooms above the shop. Nine out of 12 mem­bers of the Khan fam­ily, in­clud­ing five chil­dren, died. The youngest vic­tim was three-month-old Al­taz Khan. Sabia Khan, 28, who was preg­nant, died with 45% of burns, while on her way to the hos­pi­tal. One per­son was in­jured in the in­ci­dent.

Author­i­ties said the elec­tric me­ter in­stalled in Wafa med­i­cal store, owned by the fam­ily, caught fire.

“There are sev­eral re­ports of elec­tric­ity theft, with mul­ti­ple il­le­gal elec­tri­cal wiring and me­ter theft in the area. Wa­ter was con­tin­u­ously drip­ping on the store’s elec­tric me­ter and the il­le­gal elec­tric wiring might have caused the short cir­cuit,” a source said.

Neigh­bours said the fam­ily made at­tempts to es­cape. But there was only one exit — a sin­gle nar­row stair­case through the store, which was locked.

The women and chil­dren in the fam­ily were trapped on the sec­ond floor and suf­fo­cated in the small rooms fit­ted with air con­di­tion­ers, in­ter­nal nar­row The fire bri­gade took around 45 min­utes to douse the blaze at the Wafa med­i­cal store, owned by the Khan fam­ily, at Juhu galli in And­heri.

stair­cases and no ven­ti­la­tion.

Only three fam­ily mem­bers es­caped — Imi­taz Khan, the owner of the shop, Niza­m­mudin Khan, his brother and fa­ther Moaz­zam Khan. Author­i­ties said they es­caped from the first floor to the ter­race on the next build­ing with the help of neigh­bours.

“Within min­utes, the house and the store were in flames, we tried dous­ing the fire with buck­ets of wa­ter from neigh­bour­ing houses. We saved three of the fam­ily mem­bers af­ter we broke the roof, but it was too late for oth­ers,” said Is­mail Qureshi, neigh­bour.

Within half an hour of the fire break­ing out, res­i­dents tried to open the shop’s shut­ters to cre­ate an exit. But they failed be­cause the shop was locked from the in­side, forc­ing them to break open the tem­po­rary roof struc­tures.

“The three men tried to en­ter the house to save their fam­ily mem­bers, but within min­utes, flames and smoke had en­gulfed the en­tire struc­ture. The women and chil­dren were on the sec­ond floor and could not es­cape,” said Noor­jhan Shaikh, a neigh­bour and the owner’s cousin.

Spend­ing pat­terns in cities and vil­lages are fast con­verg­ing, as ru­ral house­holds now pay for most goods and ser­vices usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with ur­ban life­styles — from mir­crowave ovens and laun­dry ser­vices to air travel and even out-of-home din­ing — a land­mark gov­ern­ment sur­vey shows.

The bas­ket of goods and ser­vices that hogs ma­jor por­tions of ru­ral bud­gets is get­ting big­ger, un­der­scor­ing the im­por­tance of keep­ing ru­ral in­comes steady with bet­ter jobs and agri­cul­ture. The up­shot is that since ru­ral de­mand ac­counts for a large share of over­all sales, fall­ing ru­ral in­comes can dent other sec­tors of Asia’s third-largest econ­omy.

Al­though buses re­main the main mode of trans­port in both ur­ban and ru­ral In­dia, 0.04% ru­ral house­holds re­ported trav­el­ling by air, com­pared to 0.14% by their ur­ban coun­ter­parts. Also, ru­ral house­holds now spend about 21% of their monthly ser­vice-re­lated bud­get on eat­ing out, com­pared to 22% by ur­ban house­holds, in­deed an­other sign of con­verg­ing life­styles.

Across vil­lages and cities, con­sumer spend­ing habits don’t seem to vary much, data from the 72nd round of the Na­tional Sam­ple Sur­vey shows. But ru­ral house­holds tend to spend a sig­nif­i­cantly higher amount in some cat­e­gories as a pro­por­tion of their monthly bud­get, mainly be­cause of com­par­a­tively lower in­comes.

This is the first fo­cused sur­vey on con­sumer habits across In­dia by the Na­tional Sam­ple Sur­vey Or­gan­i­sa­tion, car­ried out be­tween July 2014 and June 2015.


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