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'How did Mojo’s Bistro and 1Above get permissions?'

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
By Philip Varghese

The Bombay High Court has pulled up the civic body and the state government to come up with an independent mechanism to regulate and monitor establishments found violating fire norms

Two months after the Kamala Mills fire tragedy, the Bombay High Court has rapped the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) yesterday, questioning how Mojo's Bistro and 1Above were granted permission for their rooftop restaurants in the Kamala Mills Compound.

It may be recalled that 14 people had died and over 30 were injured when a fire broke out at the ‘1 Above’ and ‘Mojo's Bistro’ pubs situated in the Kamala Mills compound in Central Mumbai.

The division bench of Justice R. M. Borde and Justice R. G. Ketkar was hearing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) seeking a judicial inquiry into the Kamala Mills fire that took place on December 29 last year wherein the bench observed that a series of fire incidents had been reported in 2017. “This fire incident at the Kamala Mills has given the BMC a chance to better the prevailing systems and it should be noted that the stakes are very high since this is about safety of citizens. This is of great importance,” the bench observed.

The court also pulled up the civic body and the state government to come up with an independent mechanism to regulate and monitor establishments who are found violating fire norms. “Once the permission is given, the authorities do not look back and no supervision is conducted. The government should come up with a mechanism to keep a regular check on establishments or else the negligence is bound to continue,” the bench further observed.

The bench further questioned permissions granted for restaurants to engage in business from the terrace of a building. “The terrace space is meant to be an open area which is accessible for all occupants of the building. That's why we don't understand how a hotel or a pub could be permitted to operate on a terrace of this building?” the bench asked.

Reacting to this, counsel Anil Sakhare representing the BMC informed the court that there was a policy for rooftop restaurants, to which, the bench directed the BMC to submit the policy in the next hearing, tomorrow, along with all the permissions granted to Mojo's Bistro and 1Above. The BMC counsel was also informed that around 12 BMC and fire officials were booked for alleged negligence and a departmental enquiry has been initiated against them.

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