CALANGUTE: Three shacks located in a private property at Sauntawaddo, Baga were gutted in a fire that broke out at 6.15 a.m. on Saturday. Fire first broke out in the shack – Christie La Music Café and then spread out to the other two.
The loss due to the fire is estimated to be Rs 75 lakh. Five fire tenders were pressed into service to put out the fire.
The fire tenders from Pilerne along with fire tenders from Mapusa and head quarters at Panaji did the job after a call came from the control room in the morning.
This is a third such incident wherein shacks in private property along the coastal belt in Calangute have caught fire. Last year one of the three shacks – Christie La Music Café had ‘caught’ fire.
“Christie La Music Café was being run by three partners. The rivalry between them led to this fire incident. Even last year fire incident had taken place. The shack had a mezzanine floor and was constructed with steel framework. There was no electricity connection for the shack, and power supply was managed through a generator. The shack was not fully operational for the last two weeks,” said a resident of Baga.
“The owner of the property Christopher had leased out the property to a Mumbai party, which was carry out all illegal activities in the shack,” alleged Calangute MLA.
This Christie La Music Café had a mezzanine floor and was constructed with a steel framework. On the mezzanine floor a dance bar was being operated and flesh trade was being carried out, he said.
“I along with the Calangute PI Rajesh Kumar had raided the place and had rescued 14 girls from the restaurant who were involved in the flesh trade,” he said.
Calangute sarpanch Pascoala Fernandes, who had come to the site to inspect the damage caused by the fire, gave away two cheques of Rs 25, 000 each from the village panchayat fund to the owners of other two shacks.
When asked as to whether the village panchayat had given a licence to operate the shack, the sarpanch said that “the property owner Christopher had taken a licence to run his restaurant, which is being operated from his house, and not the shack. The shack was being operated illegally. It had no electricity connection and the power supply was managed by a generator. The other two shacks had temporary licences.”
Calangute panch Joseph Sequeira, while speaking to media, said that “the village panchayat had come to demolish the shack which was running illegally. All sorts of nefarious activities were being carried out there. The demolition was stopped by the Calangute MLA. The file is presently with the BDO. It has not been moved to the Deputy Collector’s office as yet. On 16th of this month, the panchayat body gave a memorandum to the IGP to stop all the dance bars in Calangute. The IGP has given assurance to stop all illegal activities within a month’s time.”
Leena Fernandes, owner of one of the other two shacks said that “last year on May 31 when the welding work was being carried out in the same shack we had warned the workers not to do so but the workers continued with the work and the fire broke due to the strong breeze.”
Leena’ son Andrew said that “the fire was planned for the last 2 weeks. The shack Christie La Music Café was not operating and the place was raided by police over prostitution. I was informed at 6.30 a.m about the fire by my boy who sleeps in the shack. I have incurred a loss of almost Rs 45 lakh. My kitchen equipment, tables, chairs, freezers and stock were gutted in fire.”
Ninil D’Souza, a resident of Sauntwaddo, said that he incurred a loss of 50 lakh. He said, “I got the news about the incident at 6 a.m. It is a manmade disaster. We have lost everything in the fire. We thank the village panchayat for its good gesture of helping us.”
Meanwhile, Sequeira promised the affected shack owners to provide them with labourers and trucks through the village panchayat to remove the debris from the site.
Michael to go on hunger strike
CALANGUTE: Calangute MLA Michael Lobo has planned to go on indefinite hunger strike at the Calangute Tinto from Monday to protest against all illegal dance bars operating in the jurisdiction of Calangute.
Lobo informed the media that “lets not play the blame game. Lets stop all illegal dance bars in Calangute.” The MLA plans to go on the hunger strike ‘till the government takes action against the illegal dance bars, and put a stop on the activities which are begetting a bad name to the coastline.’