Says no care seems to have been taken while giving permissions.
Mumbai: An inquiry committee appointed by the Bombay high court has raised several question marks over the functioning of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials in the December 2017 Kamala Mills fire case.
The panel has said that no precaution seems to have been taken by civic officials while giving permissions and licences to the two restaurants on the mill premises — 1Above and Mojo’s Bistro — that were gutted in the fire, which claimed 14 lives. The committee has also said the approvals for operating 1Above and carrying out alterations might have been given hurriedly under the BMC’s ‘ease-of-doing-business’ policy.
Observing that civic officials need to explain their acts, the committee has summoned officials of fire, health and building proposal (BP) department, along with owners and licensees of two restaurants, to seek their explanations. The hearings will be held on July 10, 11 and 12.
On December 29, a fire broke out in the restaurants, which were located on the third floor of a building at Lower Parel. The court had appointed a three-member committee to probe the incident. In its remarks, which came out in an advertisement that appeared in newspapers, the enquiry committee has raised several questions over the functioning of the civic departments.
The committee has said that the no-objection certificate (NoC) given by the fire department for operating 1Above appears to have been given even prior to the BP department granting approval for using the premises as a restaurant. The health licence also appears to have been granted even prior to approval being granted for the use of the premises as a restaurant, the panel observed.
The committee has also hinted that the BMC’s ease-of-doing-business method might have been misused to give approvals for 1Above. “The approval for the use of the premises of 1Above and alterations in the premises was given hurriedly, perhaps under the policy guidelines issued by the authority concerned for ‘ease of doing business’,” said the committee.
The NoC for running the Mojo’s Bistro might have granted by the fire department without verifying whether conditions for the NoC granted by the fire department were complied with. The health officials might have carried out renewal of registration of 1Above restaurant without considering the blatant violations of NoCs/licences granted earlier, said the committee.
The panel also said that the fire NoC for additions and alternations on the third floor might have been granted without verifying whether the conditions of the earlier NoC regarding the fire escape routes, exits, fire fighting equipment and hooters were complied with. “In particular, no precaution or care seems to have been taken to ensure that the fire safety measures were in place,” read the advertisement.
Despite several attempts, civic chief Ajoy Mehta remained unavailable for comments at the time of going to press, whereas chief fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale said he would not be able to comment on the matter since the judicial inquiry is ongoing.