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Kamala Mills fire: Mumbai civic chief wants names of officials responsible for illegal structures

Ajoy Mehta has ordered his deputies to submit the names of officials responsible for rampant illegal constructions within 15 days

mumbai Updated: Jan 02, 2018 12:40 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
Kamala mills fire,Mumbai fire,illegal constructions
BMC bulldozers take down illegally constructed eateries in Kamala Mills compound following the fire, on Saturday.(PTI)

After vowing to crack down on the nexus between civic officials and agents of establishments resorting to illegalities in the wake of Kamala Mills fire, civic chief Ajoy Mehta ordered his deputies to submit within 15 days the names of officials responsible for rampant illegal constructions. The errant officials will face strict action, probably on the lines of the action taken against the officials involved in road and de-silting scams, said sources.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Mehta said there was a nexus between officials and activists owing to which action was not taken even on the blatant violations. “I have asked all deputy municipal commissioners to not only name officers, but also professional complainants who have been hand in glove with our people to get these illegalities approved. The report will be made on a case-by-case basis. We have also found that most of these complaints are selective and we will put names of these people [complainants] on record,” said Ajoy Mehta, municipal commissioner.

According to sources, ‘professional complainants’ are those who try to make money by repeatedly complaining against a single establishment. “In my ward, I have at least four so-called activists, who have been complaining about one establishment for years. We have been taking action when there were illegalities. But the complainants make a business out of this, using it as a pressure tactic to earn money from owners’ of these establishments to stop complaining,” said an official on condition anonymity.

Each of the 24 wards in the city has three officers responsible to check illegal alterations in their respective wards -- building and factory, public health and fire department.

The nexus came to light, as the BMC demolished more than 600 structures and sealed another 38 for flouting norms within 72 hours of the fire. In many cases, it was found the entire roof was covered and changed into a permanent structure at these pubs and restaurants.

According to the civic body’s rules, commercial establishments are allowed to cover the roof with sheds only during the monsoon, for which separate permissions have to be taken. Even after covering the roof, no establishments are allowed to serve food or liquor on the premises. Under the recently approved roof top restaurant policy, the BMC has restricted restaurants from canopying the area; no monsoon sheds/umbrella/ tarpaulin cover shall be permitted. It is also mandatory for restaurants to keep the terrace open to the sky at all times.

A BJP MLA has written to the chief minister for a stay on the rooftop policy approved last month. “There is no point cancelling or relooking. Through the policy, we want to regulate these restaurants. The policy clearly mentions no covering the roof, no cooking and keeping fire extinguishers,” said Mehta.

First Published: Jan 02, 2018 12:40 IST