One year of Kamala mills tragedy: Ahead of new year, BMC confident, activists wary
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One year of Kamala mills tragedy: Ahead of new year, BMC confident, activists wary

After the Kamala mills blaze on December 29, 2017, which left 55 others injured, the country’s richest civic body announced policy changes to ensure greater fire safety in Mumbai.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2018 23:55 IST
A year after fire gutted two rooftop restaurants in Kamala Mills, in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel, killing 14 people, fire safety figures high on the agenda of civic authorities in India’s financial capital ahead of the New Year although it is questionable if the measures they are putting in place are adequate to prevent a recurrence.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

A year after fire gutted two rooftop restaurants in Kamala Mills, in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel, killing 14 people, fire safety figures high on the agenda of civic authorities in India’s financial capital ahead of the New Year although it is questionable if the measures they are putting in place are adequate to prevent a recurrence.

After the blaze on December 29, 2017, which left 55 others injured, the country’s richest civic body announced policy changes to ensure greater fire safety in Mumbai.

Shortly after the deadly fire, an inspection by the fire brigade revealed both restaurants were non-compliant with fire safety norms. In the aftermath of the fire, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) came down heavily on restaurants across the city; it inspected over 9,000 premises in three months, served notices to some for non-compliance with fire safety rules and demolished several others.

Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta suspended five civic officers a day after the fire, and ordered a departmental enquiry against 12 officers (including the suspended ones). Nine officers out of these 12 were found guilty by an enquiry committee, but punishment is yet to be decided. The enquiry into the role played by three others is still pending.

BMC maintains that the situation on the ground has changed for the better. A BMC audit of buildings in Kamala Mills in November found several floor space index (FSI) violations, and missing refuse areas. “...Owners now fear that they will have to face the law if they do not follow rules...,” Mehta said.

Gurbaxish Singh, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India, said: “Restaurants have been carrying out regular safety drills. The associations has told them to be extra cautious on December 31...”

Activists have their doubts about how effective the measures are. City-based activist Godfrey Pimenta said: “Kamala mills is not an isolated incident. There have been many incidents of fire even after that. We do not see exceptional proactive measures on BMC’s side to curb fires... People need to watch out for their own safety.”

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 23:55 IST