Kamala Mills fire: 1 Above operated despite BMC prosecuting it four times

Updated: Dec 30, 2017, 11:03 IST | Chetna Sadadekar | Mumbai

Ward officer admits restaurant flouted norms in the past; fire department to check if safety audit was conducted in recent times; CM orders probe

Broken beams and rubble inside one of the restaurantsBroken beams and rubble inside one of the restaurants

Two years ago, after a blaze at Hotel City Kinara in Kurla West claimed eight lives, including seven students, the BMC had launched a massive campaign to ensure that restaurants and eateries across the city abided by fire safety norms. Immediately after, in order to make restaurant owners more responsible, the fire department had urged Mumbaikars to avoid eateries that did not meet it's fire safety standards. If today's Kamala Mills blaze is anything to go by, little has changed since October 2016.

After Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a detailed inquiry, G South ward officer, Prashant Sapkale, said an audit of all the 30-odd restaurants and eateries in and around the Kamala Mills would be conducted soon. He said, "The 1 Above restaurant owner is a repeat offender. The BMC had sent out several notices asking him to stop bypassing the law. We have prosecuted him four times in the past. Following a BMC inspection, we had seized his restaurant papers. We also demolished a part of the restaurant that was being used illegally, for smoking purposes, in August. The eatery hadn't procured licence to allow smoking on its premises. and before that also demolished the open space which was used illegally."

It's the health department of the BMC which issues licences to restaurants following thorough safety audits. The restaurants, which are also issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) by the fire department, also procure licences to operate from the shops and establishment department. Speaking to mid-day, the dep­u­ty chief fire officer, KV Hivrale, said, "We are verifying from our records if a fire safety audit was done in recent times."

Congress MLA Nitesh Rane tweeted, "So many restaurants in Mumbai do not follow safety norms. All they do is bribe the local BMC officers and get away with it. Now, a probe will be ordered and the ones who are responsible will not even be punished! There are many Kamala mills [fires] in the waiting. Nothing will change (sic)." He added, "Why only blame the restaurant owner and not the BMC officer, who kept quiet and broke the rules? Both are equally responsible."

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