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Restaurants violate safety norms and BMC turns blind eye

In a major fire that broke out on Thursday late night in a building in Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Compound where an entire pub was engulfed in flames in less than half-an-hour 14 people were killed. Fire engines and police teams rushed to the complex and began efforts to rescue those stuck inside the pub but to reach the spot it took them three hours. I felt bad for those who died and got injured in the mishap but never surprised when I was witnessing the incident. India is a corrupt nation and Mumbai is a failed city and with total disregard for citizens, all this is bound to happen and also no one will be punished too. As usual people will hail Mumbaikar’s so called sprit and lives will go on except for tragic victims’ families. Blame it on governance and be with it, no choice.

The pub owners were also illegally running hookah business in that premises, and the entire lane is in a suffocating congested place. No one is here to monitor or vigil, everyone gets his or her take without asking for and the business flourishes. Even the youngsters are not bothered to choose the safety. Police must book promoters and government officials who passed this place for operations, but for that even police needs to be clean. In Mumbai, all can be done with money. No need for any audit certification of fire and security checks. How the pub was granted permission to operate in the first place is a big question. Now after so many deaths and casualty, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun its crackdown on eateries and restaurants in these premises. Wish they would have done timely checks; this incident could have been avoided.

Life in India is actually cheap, and it will continue to be – until someday, an incident happens to some big shot. The problem with Kamala Mills Compound is that all old structures of the textile mills were renovated/repaired and converted to commercial structure, having no proper fire fighting system. In little space they have kitchen, smoke zone to bar and pub. Minor mistake can cause a big threat.

We the people keep living in cramped conditions, Indians and especially Mumbaikars are habituated to live like cockroaches, keep flouting law by paying bribes and “hota hai chalta hai” attitude. In Mumbai, buildings are collapsing like trees but yet people are not giving a chance or little thought to live like a civilised city. Like it or not, no matter how much Indians keep talking big about their religion or sanskars and sanskrutis, but brutal fact is that we failed miserably on humanity front. This is not the last incident unless and until Indians learn the way to follow rules. The owners – Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality are well known in political circuit and have good clout in the Mumbai administration. They will come out of all clutches, their interest would be protected and all charges against them will be dropped, those died will be paid some paltry compensation. The roof top restaurant will start operating with same setup within next few days.

People start blaming authorities forgetting that it is they who bribed them and get approvals for old structures such as these. BMC should set this as example and review the safety of each building. Same cases are in Chennai and Delhi; these cities have outgrown in population, whereas the size and infrastructure have taken a hit. Unless immediate steps are taken, many more buildings will be burnt, bridges will be broken etc.

Yesterday, when there was social media outrage against the BMC and government, Parts of the Skyview Cafe, a rooftop restaurant in Oasis City of Kamala Mills, were demolished after an inspection by the BMC found irregularities. Till this incidence, they did not even notice or bother to take action against such irregularities. The restaurant was violating open spaces norms, but who cares? Civic authorities ignored construction irregularities and violated safety norms in the compound.

A majority of those killed were women who had come for a birthday party at the rooftop restaurant. The 28-year-old woman celebrating her birthday was among the victims. The fire is believed to have spread as the roof of the restaurant was made of bamboo and tarpaulin sheets. Almost all (the victims) died of asphyxiation. A proper evacuation plan could have avoided this. Whoever, has granted licence to the restaurant is responsible for this incident. Implementing fire audits of such places are a must and strict actions are needed against violations found!

Several news channels, which operate from the compound, had to shut down broadcast due to damage to their equipment. Once an industrial area in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel locality, the 37-acre premises house a host of swanky restaurants that had moved in over the last few years to make it a popular nightlife destination. Let’s see if media too realises its duty, authorities would be booked and justice to the family of victims will be delivered. Meanwhile, our deepest sympathy is with the family members who lost their kin and kith in this massive fire. RIP.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

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Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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