Fire brigade to inspect Kamala Mills from SatUpdated: Feb 14, 2020 00:13 IST
The Mumbai Fire Brigade will start inspection of establishments at Lower Parel’s Kamala Mills compound from Saturday and action will be immediately initiated against those flouting norms. The move comes after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) report pointing out violations of fire-safety rules at the compound.
The BMC’s inspection report, which was finalised on Tuesday, revealed that establishments fraudulently used floor space index (FSI) and violated fire-safety norms. While 23.24% of the built-up area was in violation of the originally approved plans, 11.93% or 11,362.63 sq m, had violated fire-safety rules.
A BMC official told HT that during the course of this action, fire no-objection certificates (NOC) of establishments flouting fire-safety rules will be revoked until the structure is fire-safety compliant again, in accordance with the report’s recommendations. Once a fire NOC is revoked, the establishment cannot function until it is made fire-safety compliant again.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of the fire brigade department, said, “I have already directed the fire brigade to start inspection of establishments inside the Kamala Mills compound and take strict action in case of non-compliance, including revoking the fire NOC. Our routine inspections as part of the compliance cell are ongoing daily.”
The report found that features of a building that are used to escape or take refuge from a fire, such as fire exits, fire escape passages, emergency staircases, refuge areas, open-to-air terraces, were encroached upon by office spaces or toilets. Original plans of the build were altered and hence staircases were not found at a Central location, where they were supposed to be located; lift lobbies were blocked and converted to habitable areas; fire ducts were used as storage spaces; and open-to-air terraces served as enclosed office spaces and toilets.
BMC’s Development Control Rules 1991, according to which Kamala Mills’s floor plan was approved, state that there should be a continuous passage for exit to the exterior of the building or an open space leading to the street; this should not be obstructed by any other item or construction; it should be planned in a way that the street can be reached without having to cross another occupied room. DCR 1991 also stated that the number of such passages, their width, capacity and protection should be unaffected by any structural alteration.
The rules also clearly state the distance from the dead end of a corridor to the nearest exit and the number of exits needed per building based on its occupancy. Moreover, in case of a building more than 30m in height, the terrace is supposed to serve as an open-to-air refuge area.
Kamala Mills is spread across 9.4 acres in the heart of the city and houses restaurants, pubs and bars, frequented by party goers, along with a majority of office spaces and commercial establishments.
A massive blaze at two posh pubs inside the compound — 1Above and Mojo Bistro — on December 29, 2017, killed 14 people, all of who died due to suffocation, while taking refuge inside a toilet with no ventilation. Since then, the Mumbai fire brigade has inspected 1500 commercial areas with high footfall, such as malls, business and IT park. Kakani said, “Action was taken under the aegis of the compliance cells created after the Kamala Mills fire. Some of the inspected establishments have been prosecuted for flouting fire safety.”