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Wary after fire, but patrons won’t desert Kamala Mills compound

By Mehul R Thakkar, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON DEC 27, 2019 12:01 AM IST

Two years after a blaze at Kamala Mills compound killed 14, restaurant owners say their businesses, which was hit for six months after the incident, is back to normal. Visitors, meanwhile, are cautious about fire safety while picking restaurants in the compound.

On December 29, 2017, a massive fire broke out at two restaurants in Kamala Mills, 1Above and Mojo Bistro, claiming 14 lives.

The blaze was a result of flying particles that came from a hookah served at one of the two restaurants.

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), there are at least 16 restaurants in Kamala Mills compound and 10 more in the neighbouring Victoria Mills compound.

Shubham Panjari, who visits Kamala Mills frequently, said, “I had stopped going to Kamala Mills after the incident, but soon started going back, as it is convenient. I have many friends working in the compound and we
have our gatherings there. We need to worry about fire safety everywhere, not just at Kamala Mills.”

Taisha Bhasin, who works in the compound, is sceptical. “Kamala Mills is very close to my office, so it is easy to meet friends here. I avoid eating at restaurants on higher floors. They are usually very crowded with small lifts.”

“I am more aware of fire safety, but it hasn’t stopped me from visiting restaurants in the compound,” said a visitor, who did not want to be named.

Kinjal Mehta, another frequent visitor to restaurants in Kamala Mills compound, said, “Kamala Mills is a hub of restaurants and you get everything under one roof here. Fire safety remains on the back of my mind, but doesn’t stop me from visiting the place.”

A BMC official said, “Nine-10 restaurants in Victoria Mills compound were shut recently. In Kamala Mills, there have been no closures and around 16 restaurants are functional, except the two that caught fire.”

A restaurant owner from Kamala Mills said, “There was absolutely no business for six months in 2018, immediately after the fire. The crowd started visiting only by the end of 2018. Business is back to normal now. The overall economy and spending power is sluggish these days, and even that has a little impact.”

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