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Mumbai Kamala mills fire: Did BMC ignore repeated warning by local activists?

mumbai Updated: Dec 30, 2017 15:56 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai news,Kamala Mills compound

14 people died in the fire at Kamala Mills compound.(HT Photo)

Fire safety norm violations were reported earlier too in the two Kamala Mills restaurants, which were burnt down in a massive fire that killed 14 people on Friday morning, according to local activists.

1Above resto-bar on the terrace of Trade House is one of the many in Kamala Mills compound that had illegally extended its structure using bamboos and tarpaulin sheets. The management of 1Above denied all allegations.

Mangesh Kasalkar and Mandar Parab, residents of the area, said they sent letters to the civic body complaining about the unauthorised and unsafe construction in at least 20 open-air restaurants in and around the mills, including 1Above. “We have been following the issue since October, but the civic body replied saying the restaurant did not flout any norms,” said Parab.

In July, another activist Ilyas Khan claimed he wrote to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about non-compliance to fire safety norms in seven open-air restaurants in Lower Parel, including the restaurant in question.

“1Above was not fire-compliant at all. It had used 8,000 sqft of terrace illegally. I also made online complaints against five restaurants in Kamala Mills and three in Raghvanshi Mills,” said Khan, adding many illegal restaurants had sprung up in the area this year.

A statement issued by 1 Above management said, “All our premises are well-inspected and we have all the requisite permissions. All fire safety mechanisms were place and a regular safety audit carried out. We presume 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 BMC said 1Above had permission to use the designated one-thirds of the open space of the terrace.

“However, the one-year-old resto-bar used up more of the space, even after we sent notices for demolition in July, August and September. We took action against 1Above in September and also against Mojo Bistro for illegal extension in August,” said assistant municipal commissioner Prashant Sapkale.

First Published: Dec 30, 2017 15:51 IST