14 killed in Mumbai fire: Restaurants ‘flouted norms, were disaster waiting to happen’
1Above and Mojo restaurants blamed for blaze that led to 14 people’s deaths in in Lower Parel’s Kamla Mills compound.
Parts of the two Mumbai high-end restaurants where a fire on early Friday killed at least 14 people were razed thrice in the last six months for flouting norms and one of the restro-bars didn’t even have a fire exit, officials said.
The blaze in Lower Parel’s Kamla Mills compound, which housed the two pubs on the fourth floor, also injured at least 16 people.
Though it is still not clear if the fire started from 1Above restaurant or Mojo’s bistro, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said it was a disaster waiting to happen.
The owners ignored BMC notices and even the demolitions and continued to flout norms, said officials of the civic body that has come in for severe criticism for its alleged inaction.
According to assistant commissioner of G south ward Prashant Sapkale, the BMC had in July sent a notice to 1Above for illegally using the balcony area for restaurant.
The Kamla Mills compound in Lower Parel fall in the G south ward. In August, a portion of the balcony wall the restaurant shared with Mojo’s was demolished as it was an unauthorised extension.
Even after the demolition, both the restaurants continued to occupy the balcony area, Sapkale said.
A month later, the BMC confiscated the material used in the balcony seating area. “This still did not deter the restaurants from reoccupying the space and running their business,” Sapkale said.
“Both 1Above and Mojo had permission to only use the one-third area of this floor that was constructed. The remaining two-thirds that was open balcony could not be utilised for the restaurant.”
According to fire brigade officials, several people were trapped as 1Above did not even have a fire exit, which is a must.
“All our premises are well inspected and we have all the requisite permissions,” 1 Above management said in a statement. All fire safety mechanisms were place and a regular safety audit carried out.
“We presume that the fire emanated from a property adjoining 1Above. The unmanageable nature at the preliminary source of the fire resulted in its escalation to our property,” the statement said.
A sprawling defunct textile compound, Kamala Mills is a popular nightspot which has upscale eateries and offices. Several TV news channels operating from the compound had to shut down broadcast, reportedly due to equipment damage.
Many abandoned mills have been turned into malls, offices and luxury apartments in space-starved Mumbai but several buildings ignore fire safety or are poorly maintained.
On December 18, 12 labourers were killed in a fire at an unauthorised snack unit in Andheri East.