Bandra lane firetrap: No action despite notice issued; ward officer's role questioned
Day after mid-day exposed illegalities in restaurants, role of ward officer questioned; Ashish Shelar writes to BMC seeking action
December 28, 2016 - this is the date deputy municipal commissioner of zone III had passed an order directing action against the civic officials who had ignored irregularities and serious violations of restaurants Door No. 1 and Broaster Chicken at Bandra Reclamation. It's been over a year now, and yet, neither has there been any action against the errant eateries, nor against those officials who failed to do their job.
Door No. 1 and Broaster Chicken have allegedly violated fire safety norms and encroached on open space. File pics
Documents available with complainant Kaushal Bhatia, who stays in Sea View Society, next to ONGC Colony where these eateries are located, show how officials from H-west ward didn't take any concrete action against the violations, pushing Bhatia to appeal during the public grievances meeting of zone III's deputy municipal commissioner (DMC). After hearing him, then DMC Vasant Prabhu had ordered Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H-west ward Sharad Ughade to take action against officials concerned.
The order, a copy of which is with mid-day, stated, "Assistant [municipal] commissioner [has been directed] to take strict action against concerned officials, [find out] why action was not taken in three months after issue of notice. Assistant commissioner should also take strict action against then designated officer (DO) and present DO and [af]fix the responsibility and submit a report within 15 days.
"DO should file [an] affidavit in high court along with contempt of court against owner of shop numbers 1, 2 and 3 (Door No. 1 and Broaster Chicken). Also, medical officer of health (MOH) and fire officer [must] take action against [the] violations." According to the Bhatia, only contempt of court was filed, but Ughade, who took charge of H-west ward two years back, didn't take any action against the officials concerned.
"I followed up on the DMC's order, but nothing was done in this matter. The ward officer even promised me that action would be taken, and yet, zilch." A source from the BMC said, "Even though there was an order to initiate action against the DO and other officials, nothing was done." Ughade didn't respond to repeated calls and messages on why action wasn't taken despite an order.
On Wednesday (February 7), mid-day had reported about BMC issuing notices to owners Irfan Mogul and his father Aman Mogul for unauthorised construction in shop numbers 1, 2 and 3, where they ran a garage earlier, but not following up on it.
While HC had granted status quo in the matter to a petition filed by Irfan himself, the owner allegedly defied the ruling and converted the garage into restaurants. And despite being aware of the irregularities, BMC granted them an eating licence (July 2016) and a fire NOC (April 2016).
According to a civic official, the eating licence was issued by then MOH Dr Harishchandra Nouni and fire NOC was by station officer P A Sawant from Bandra fire station. The role of then DO Sunil Tawade, who was empowered to take action, was also suspicious.
Bhatia said, "After 14 were killed in the Kamala Mills fire, BMC took action against 6,000 establishments over several violations; but in the ONGC Colony lane, these two eateries, which have been violating norms, continue to run.
"In the latest follow-up, I had again attended a public grievances meeting of DMC Anand Waghralkar on January 1, 2018. He had ordered that a report in the case should be submitted within a week. It's been over a month, but there's been no update. When I called up the DMC's office, the administrative officer told me to stop calling and go to the ward office to take the report." Despite repeated attempts, Waghralkar was unavailable for comment.
Ashish Shelar follows up with the civic body
After the Kamala Mills fire, local MLA and BJP city unit chief Ashish Shelar had written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta (on December 30, 2017), highlighting illegal alterations and additions to eateries in Bandra, Khar Road and Santacruz, including Door No. 1. After mid-day's report, Shelar wrote to Ughade yesterday, asking him to take action against establishments in ONGC lane for fire safety violations and encroachment. Shelar also demanded action against the officials who issued licences. "I have asked the commissioner to suspend the officer who issued the licences... In the last 20 years, a lot of damage has been done to this area (Bandra). Now, I am trying to set things right," he said.