Kamala Mills fire: Authorities start firefighting after Parel blaze chars 14

Updated: Dec 30, 2017, 19:13 IST | A Correspondent

Even as BMC chief and CM order audit and inquiry and suspend five civic officials, corporators question why no action was taken on restaurant's violations earlier

BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta
BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta

Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta suspends five civic officials and transfers Lower Parel's ward officer, and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis orders a detailed inquiry and a report within 15 days - it took 14 innocent lives for the authorities to do their job of keeping a check on establishments and irregularities. The flurry of action is following a major fire that broke out around 12.30 am on Friday at the Trade House building in Kamala Mills compound, killing 14 and injuring 14 others.

Damage control
The standing committee members in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) too raised the issue of the fire, demanding answers from the administration. There were also calls for suspending the ward officer.

Civic authorities mentioned that officials failed to fulfil their duty, and thus, were suspended. Fadnavis tweeted, "5 officials have been already suspended but beyond that if they or owners are found responsible for loss of lives, they will be booked under IPC. Guilty won't be spared. Ordered for safety audit of all such structures immediately & demolish illegal ones. (sic)"

Designated officer of G-south ward Madhukar Shelar, sub-engineer of the ward Dinesh Mahale, Junior Engineer Dhanraj Shinde, Medical Officer of Health of the ward Dr Satish Badgire, and Assistant Divisional Fire Officer S S Shinde are the five suspended. Prashant Sapkale, the ward officer, has been transferred to K-east ward (Andheri East). Corporators, however, fumed that only after a serious incident had the authorities acted on violations.

A sitting duck
BMC's health department issues a licence to anyone for starting a restaurant in the city only after receiving a No-Objection Certificate from the fire department. Besides this, other licences, including one from the Shops and Establishment department, are also required.

The restaurant where the fire allegedly started didn't have a functional firefighting system or even fire exits, said fire officials, adding, "A lot of combustible material was stored on the rooftop, aggravating the situation." Mehta, in the standing committee, said, "The CM has ordered a thorough inquiry into this; none of the officers responsible will be spared."

Rais Shaikh, group leader of Samajwadi Party, said, "Why only lower level officials have been suspended and the ward officer spared? I demand that even the ward officer be suspended as he was in charge of this area."

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