The Kamala Mills fire: a look at how the events unfolded

314 illegal extensions demolished, 7 restaurants sealed after Mumbai pub fire

Illegal structures of various restaurants inside the Kamala Mills compound being razed on Saturday.

Illegal structures of various restaurants inside the Kamala Mills compound being razed on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

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BMC launches drive against unsafe restaurants

Following a major fire at the Mojo and 1 Above restaurants in the Kamala Mills Compound that claimed 14 lives, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation launched a major demolition drive on Saturday. It launched the demolition drive against illegal extensions in 314 restaurants and sealed seven restaurants. The BMC has identified over 624 restaurants with unauthorised constructions and the action is likely to be continued on Sunday.

Strict warning

The corporation has also warned restaurants, hotels and malls to ensure fire safety norms are in place, or face demolitions. Spurred possibly by the national ire that the fire had attracted and the personal intervention of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BMC launched its biggest offensive against illegal restaurants by involving over 1,000 civic employees on a single day for the drive.

Three teams were formed in each of the 24 city wards. Armed with backhoe loaders, the teams went all out to act out against restaurants from Sunday morning. Additional Municipal Commissioner-City Aabasaheb Jarhad told The Hindu: “The illegal structures had been there for some time but we were unable to act upon them due to the stay orders that they obtain from courts. But today, the Commissioner empowered us to go all out and act against the [erring] restaurants. We removed illegal sheds, inspected premises and even cleared hurdles blocking the exit corridors of restaurants. The Commissioner has already instructed the ward officers, and officials of the Law Department, to ensure that such stay orders, obtained by hotels for protection against demolitions, be vacated from courts at the earliest. This is not a one-off operation — action will be taken on a regular, continuous basis.”

This was likely the biggest drive of its kind against illegal restaurants in Mumbai. The scale of the operations could be gauged by the fact that they were personally overseen by three officers of the level of the Additional Municipal Commissioner, apart from the involvement of over 1,000 civic employees. Additional Municipal Commissioners I.A. Kundan, Vijay Singhal and Mr. Jarhad visited and directed the operations from the spot themselves.

President of the Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association Santosh Shetty said: “It is unfair to tar the entire hotel fraternity with the same brush. While there may be some black sheep in the profession, all restaurants cannot be termed as fire risks. Our organisation, which has over 7,000 restaurant members, regularly conducts fire safety workshops by fire officers, where they instruct us about electrical installations and fire safety appliances, and even on how to evacuate people during fires.”

PTI adds:

Sanjay Nirupam demands BMC chief’s suspension

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam on Saturday demanded that BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta be suspended, for the deadly fire. Terming the suspension of five civic official as an eyewash, Nirupam demanded a CBI or a judicial probe into the incident saying the Brihammumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner “was guilty of overlooking irregularities”.

‘Kamala Mills fire a wake-up call for Delhi’

New Delhi: A day after a massive fire in a central Mumbai rooftop pub claimed 14 lives, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said it was a “wake-up call” for Delhi and called for “zero tolerance” towards those flouting fire and safety norms in the national capital. The Housing and Urban Affairs Minister said rampant construction and flouting of fire and safety norms was turning Delhi into tinderbox.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 8:01:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/314-illegal-extensions-demolished-7-restaurants-sealed/article22335192.ece

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