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

Kamala Mills fire: Ribeiro moves HC seeking probe

Avoidable tragedy? Debris from one of the two restaurants gutted in the Kamala Mills fire  

Mumbai: Former city Commissioner of Police Julio F. Riberio moved the Bombay High Court on Tuesday, seeking a comprehensive fire safety audit, a special investigation team (SIT) and a judicial commission to fix accountability for the loss of 14 lives in the recent fire at two restaurants in Kamala Mills.

Mr. Ribeiro, 89, has also served as the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force. He is the founding trustee of NGO Public Concern for Governance Trust. His PIL claims the “BMC was in complete knowledge of the illegalities and flouting of norms by the licensee and licensor at – 1Above and Mojo’s Bistro.”

It mentions how the “BMC chief has frankly admitted that there was immense pressure from the powerful persons to ‘not take action against certain officials’, and that there were people who were insistent that no action should be taken against them”. The PIL points out that neither restaurant had fire safety equipment.

Among other requests, Mr. Riberio has sought a direction from the court to the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) to conduct a comprehensive fire safety audit of all eateries, lounges, bas and pubs. He wants the Urban Development Department to depute an officer in all civic wards to aid the CFO in conducting a comprehensive ward-wise fire safety audit, and report a submit to court in a time-bound manner.

Mr. Riberio, who was also the Indian Ambassador to Romania, sought alternate relief through a judicial commission that will fix accountability of public officers and private individuals, which will submit a report to the court. The PIL also sought the constitution of an SIT comprising IPS officers not below the rank of Additional CP (Crime) to continue with the investigation into the Kamala Mills fire. All FIRs in the incident have been registered at NM Marg police station.

Mr. Ribeiro said, “I really hope a proper investigation takes place, and those punished should not only be the owners, but also erring municipal corporation officers.”

A Division Bench comprising Justices R.M. Borde and R.G. Ketkar said when authorities permit commercial establishments, they should also put regulations in place, and ensure fire tenders have sufficient access. The matter will be heard on January 15.

On December 29, a fire broke out after midnight at restaurant 1Above and Mojo’s Bistro next to it. Dozens of patrons were trapped in them as smoke filled the narrow entrances. While most made it safel;y to the lanes outside, 14 people lost their lives, sparking widespread outrage over alleged violation of fire safety norms by the eatiers. A probe by the city fire brigade has said the fire started at Mojo’s

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 4:45:16 AM |

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