Clearing the air over the existence of rooftop restaurants in the city, Navi Mumbai civic chief Ramaswamy N on Wednesday said they are illegal.
His remark comes after 14 people died in two rooftop restaurants at Kamala Mills compound in Mumbai, early on December 29.
Ramaswamy has directed his officials to take strict action against hotels and eateries that are violating fire safety norms and building illegal extensions.
The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has so far issued notices to 146 eateries over fire safety guidelines and unauthorised alterations.
“Unlike the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), we have never approved the rooftop policy and given no permission to any individual to open such eateries. Violations of other norms such as fire safety, encroachment etc are a separate chapter. The very existence of a rooftop eatery is illegal in Navi Mumbai,” he said.
“We have ordered our officials to crack down on such irregularities. They have already started taking action against violators,” he further said.
Mumbai civic chief Ajay Mehta had approved the rooftop policy on November 2 last year.
A week after that, the BMC’s public health department formed guidelines to grant such rooftop permits.
NMMC officials have so far found 152 rooftop eateries in Navi Mumbai.
“Some of them had eateries on open terraces too. While many of them have been removed by our officials, the rest are being removed by the restaurant owners. Till now, around 40 hotels and restaurants have faced action from the anti-encroachment department,” said Prabhakar Gade, in-charge of the fire department.
Gade said, “We have found 49 restaurants were running without the fire no-objection certificates. We are serving notices to them asking to do the needful. Our survey is still on.”
Ankush Chavan, additional commissioner of NMMC, said the civic body is strictly monitoring rooftop restaurants.
“We have taken this matter very seriously. We cannot allow anyone to run a hotel or restaurant by violating the norms. Our teams are now visiting such places in each ward and serving notices over violations.”
According to Chavan, their teams have visited nearly 300 hotels and restaurants and served notices to 97 of them for illegal construction.
Activists criticised the NMMC for letting many rooftop restaurants run their business for long.
“If NMMC has no rooftop policy, then how could someone start one such restaurant in Vashi two years ago? It was closed after the Kamala Mills tragedy. We are just wondering if some hoteliers were allowed to start such restaurants illegally owing to their political clout,” said Hemant Sharma, socio-legal head of Sahayak NGO.
“There are still a number of restaurants across Navi Mumbai, which are running from roofs. We hope all of them will face action from the civic body soon,” he added.