Kamala Mills fire effect: Mumbai civic body may give its health dept powers to seal eateries
Currently, only the fire brigade has the power to seal premises where it sees an ‘imminent danger’ of fire under the fire Safety Act, 2014 , which is used as the last resortUpdated: Apr 07, 2018, 12:00 IST
In an indication to intensify its crackdown against commercial establishments violating safety norms, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is considering to allow its health department to seal such premises.
The move comes after the BMC was slammed for negligence over the Kamala Mills fire in which 14 people were killed in December last year. The investigation found large scale fire and structural violations in two restaurants — Mojo’s Bistro and 1Above — which were gutted. The fire started from Mojo’s and later spread to 1Above.
Currently, only the fire brigade has the power to seal premises where it sees an ‘imminent danger’ of fire under the fire Safety Act, 2014 , which is used as the last resort.
The health, and the building and factory departments have powers to inspect commercial properties. The former can only confiscate goods.
The BMC is legally scrutinising the plan to allow the health department to seal establishments. It will then write to the state government to amend the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act.
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “We are considering this matter seriously and will take concrete steps soon.”
A civic official associated with the process said, “We cannot use the ‘imminent danger of fire’ clause in every case, and seal establishments. But that does not mean they are not flouting safety norms. A lot of hazards can also lead to dangerous situations of fire, such as liquor stored near an LPG cylinder.”
IA Kundan, additional municipal commissioner in charge of the health department, said, “The health department will be able to exert this power in case of existing establishments that approach the BMC for license renewal. This will reduce the burden on the chief fire officer (CFO). ”
All new establishments have to comply with a list of fire safety criteria, codified by the CFO,in the wake of the Kamala Mills fire.
After receiving the application, the fire compliance officer inspects all properties before a no-objection certificate is issued.
However the codified norms don’t apply to the existing establishments, as the license has already been handed over to them based on the rules existing at the time. This will eliminate the need for the fire cell to inspect such premises.