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

On Day 2, BMC seals 30 eateries; no prior notice, say owners

On the streets: Game machines from a restaurant are seen on the pavement outside during the BMC demolition drive at Kamala Mills  

Mumbai: The BMC on Sunday resumed its demolition drive in all 24 wards, as it carried out inspections of 615 hotels and restaurants and initiated action against 355 of them. The drive comes after the Kamala Mill fire, which claimed 14 lives and left 54 injured early on December 30.

The civic body also sealed 30 eateries, 22 of which were in L Ward, which covers Kurla, Asalpha and Sakinaka, three each in Dahisar and Bhandup and one each in Grant Road and Chembur. It also inspected prominent clubs and gymkhanas such as Otters Club, Khar and Bandra gymkhanas. Otter Club and Khar Gymkhana were found with violations. Following a late evening surprise check, Acres Club in Chembur was sealed for fire norms violations in their basement banquet hall, where a New Year’s Eve (NYE) bash was scheduled.

In Kamala Mills, the BMC continued with its demolition of Smaaash. Its team tore down an open air cafeteria owned by Welspun House, near the site of the fire. In Raghuvanshi Mills, Sheesha rooftop lounge faced action. “The work is being done manually and is taking time,” a BMC official overseeing the demolitions said.

In Borivali (East), the rooftops of three restaurants — Pangat, Classic, and Namaskar — were demolished. “I renovated my restaurant four months ago. BMC has destroyed my whole business. I don't know what to do," said Anil Shinde, proprietor, Pangat restaurant.

‘No prior notice’

Restaurateurs say the BMC action was sudden and without any notice, and took place when many patrons were enjoying a Sunday lunch on the last day of the year. “We were having a family lunch at Classic, when the BMC started its work and we had to leave the place,” Nayana Phadke, a resident of Borivali (East) who had come with his 82-year-old father-in-law, said.

Most restauranteurs claimed they had renovated their establishments in the last eight months, and had the requisite permissions. “Our rooftop is legal. We have all relevant paper work, but despite this they asked us to close. They even took away all our seating arrangement and ACs on the rooftop,” Rakesh Shetty, manager, Gokulanand in Dahisar (East), said. “Also, BMC had not given any prior notice.”

Patrons who had booked rooftops for functions months ago have been left confused by the BMC action. Girija Gondhalekar, a resident of Borivali (East), said, “I got a call from Gokulanand about the demolition. I now have to shift my engagement ceremony to smaller space within the same premises.”

Assistant Municipal Commissioner (R-North) Sandhya Nandedkar, said, “The action has been taken after BMC told all hotels and restaurants to not use their rooftops for commercial purposes. There was no need to give special notices to all, as it was clearly mentioned after the Kamala Mills fire that restaurants have to close their rooftops.”

In K-West Ward, which includes Juhu, Vile Parle (West) and Andheri (West), the BMC took action against 14 restaurants including Trioz, On The Platter, Estella Café and Mar. A staffer at Trioz said, “The demolitions have cost us over ₹2 lakh, as it destroyed our restaurant’s façade.”

A civic engineer in K–West ward said, “We’re still in the process of identifying illegal constructions. If we find illegalities we will take appropriate action. We’re trying to finish our work as soon as possible.”

The BMC will is also planning action against eight more restaurants in the area on Monday. Local corporator Anish Makwane said he has already asked the local ward officer to demolish these structures. “I don’t want any accidents in my ward.”

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 5:05:16 PM |

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