When will Kamala Mills stop playing with fire? BMC report raises question againUpdated: Feb 12, 2020 23:56 IST
Even two years after the fire at two posh restaurants – 1Above and Mojo Bistro – at Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel killed 14 people, buildings in the compound continue to “violate fire safety norms”. This was revealed in a report by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) inspection committee – ‘Violations of FSI and Verification of IT user at Kamala Mill Compound’ – which was submitted to municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi last week and was finalised on Tuesday.
According to the report, a copy of which is with HT, establishments in the compound have encroached upon areas that are to be used as escape routes during a fire; merged fire passages, fire escape balconies, fire ducts, common passages and electric rooms with habitable areas. Offices, cabins and toilets, with lightweight partitions, have been set up on open spaces and terraces and locations of staircases have been changed, stated the report.
While FSI violations – area fraudulently added to officially approved area – are seen on 23.24% of the total area, fire safety norms are being violated on 11.93% space. The report stated, “This [math] is worked out just to indicate the magnanimity of the misuse and compromise with fire safety.”
The report was compiled after joint inspections conducted by the state’s industries department and top civic officials to check misuse of FSI based on approved plans resulting in violations of fire safety and of the state’s IT policy. It stated that 11296.04sqm area was granted to the Kamala Mills Compound without FSI for uses such as common passage, lifts, lift lobbies, electric room, niches and staircases, but has been merged with office spaces and is being used commercially. The report recommended that the area be restored to its original use.
However, there are no additional floors or horizontal construction, in violation of FSI rules, at the compound. The other recommendations include immediate inspection of all premises by the chief fire officer, revoking fire no-objection certificate unless the structure is fire compliant and action against the establishment. “In light of massive FSI violations compromising with fire safety” the report suggested the development plan department levy a hefty penalty on the establishment before any type of regularisation is permitted within Mumbai’s Development Control and Promotion Regulation (DCPR) 2034.
Kamala Mills compound, earlier an industrial estate, was redeveloped into a commercial hub under the state’s IT policy. The compound was given an additional FSI of 1.33 above the permitted zonal FSI, on the condition that 80% of the space will be used for IT purposes and 20% for commercial activity. The state’s industries department has given a clean chit to the compound, citing that non-IT activities make up for only 15.28% of the approved area, well below 20%.