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Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Fire case brings 10 BMC officials under scanner

Twenty days after the Kamala Mills blaze which claimed 14 lives, Civic Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has submitted a probe report to CM Devendra Fadnavis, which states that 10 civic officials are under the scanner. In this context, he has ordered a full-fledged departmental inquiry against officers from the Building Proposal Department, the Fire Brigade — including two assistant commissioners — and the Deputy Executive health officer of Lower-Parel (G-ward). Five civic officers from the ward were suspended immediately after the incident and the Assistant Commissioner of the ward, Prashant Sapkale, had been transferred.

The report concludes that Mehta needs three more months to conduct a detailed survey and analysis since it seems there was a gross misuse of the premises by the owner, including change in activity and structural changes, and that too without approval. It also points out the need to strengthen the implementing machinery to ease regulations and hasten the approval processes. So, it has recommended that the MCGM’s licencing process  be re-jigged so that it moves from one approval level to another only after the earlier level is complied with.

The seven-page inquiry report further cites a change in MMC Act for eating houses/restaurants with a stringent provision of punishment to incentivise honest self-declaration and punish dishonest compliance. Further, it also proposes to change the existing eating house licencing procedure and monsoon shed permission procedure.

In addition, Mehta has also demanded criminal action against owners of the premises, owners of the two restaurants, architect, and the interior decorator who carried out, aided and abetted these unauthorised works and illegal activities. It also mentions the role of the facility manager as mentioned in the leave and licence agreement of the mill owner and restaurant owner, which needs to be investigated.

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