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Bombay High Court slams BMC for fire at Kamala Mills compound

The Bombay High Court has slammed the authorities for not monitoring the functioning of hotels, restaurants and other eateries in the city after granting licences and held them responsible for incidents like the fire at Kamala Mills compound on December 29 last year.

“Prima facie, once licence is granted, there is no supervision. There needs to be a constant monitoring or else such cases of fire and negligence will continue. There are rampant violations,” said the division bench of Justices RM Borde and RG Ketkar. Noting that there was a spate of fire incidents in the city in 2017, the bench, which was hearing a PIL seeking a judicial inquiry into the incident, asked the BMC and the state government to come up with an independent mechanism to regulate and monitor such establishments.

“This incident has given you an opportunity to improve your system. Stakes are high as it is about citizens’ safety which is of utmost importance,” the bench observed.

The court also sought to know under what policy the BMC had allowed such outlets to function on rooftops. “We do not understand how a hotel or pub can be permitted to operate on the terrace of a building? A terrace is supposed to be a common area accessible to all occupants.”

Fourteen people died and over 30 others were injured when a fire broke out at 1 Above and Mojo’s Bistro pubs situated in the Kamala Mills compound in Central Mumbai on December 29 last year. Mumbai’s former police commissioner Julio Ribeiro filed a PIL seeking directives to the government and the civic body to carry out a fire safety audit of all eateries and restaurants.

During the hearing on Monday, senior advocate Anil Sakhare, appearing for the BMC, submitted the civic chief’s report to the state government on the tragedy. He informed the court that 12 officials of the BMC and the fire department have been booked in the case for alleged negligence and are pending a departmental enquiry.

The bench directed the civic body to carry out inspections at all eateries in the city to ensure that the outlets were adhering to the fire safety norms.

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