RAHIM YAR KHAN-Thirteen shops were gutted when a fire erupted in Model Shopping Mall near Rescue 1122 station in wee hours of Tuesday.

According to Rescue 1122 sources, the fire erupted in the shopping mall due to short-circuit at 5:27am. Ten out of 43 shops were burnt completely while 3 shops burnt partially. The firefighters controlled the fire after strenuous efforts.

There were valuables worth Rs200 million but rescuers saved worth Rs188 million goods. Some shopkeepers on the spot told reporters that the mall was established last year on almost 38-marla land of MC near Rescue 1122 main office. There were total 43 shops and 90 stalls on ramps in the shopping mall through open auction. The land was leased out to a blue-eyed person of MC high-ups. He was collecting Rs9,000 from each shopkeeper and Rs3000 from each stallholder per month.

The design was approved by the MC but the electrical work was not done by a recommended electrical engineer. The mall was centrally air-conditioned without getting proper electrical transformers. A shopkeeper requesting anonymity said that the main lessee was submitting the amount of Rs 525,000 to the MC while collecting Rs716,000 per month from the shopkeepers.

He further said that the mall administration was demanding Rs30,000 per shop and Rs15,000 per stall for the installation of transformers.

When contacted, MC chief officer Shauket Hayyat switched off his cell phone. Incharge land branch MC Riaz Ahmed said that it had leased out the land to Zafar Iqbal on monthly rent of Rs530,000 and he deposited the 6-month rent amount in advance as security.

He said that Zafar had submitted an affidavit to MC that he would not sublet the shops and stalls to other persons and now Zafar claims that all the 43 shopkeepers and 90 stallholders were his employees. He further said that the MC had issued an NOC for the installation of transformers but the meters will be in the name of MC. The MC will cancel the agreement with him if any shopkeeper produces an agreement of sublet to it, he said.