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KAMALA MILLS FALLOUT: BIG TICKET EATERIES PAY FOR FLOUTING FIRE SAFETY AND EXIGENCY NORMS

Every cloud, they say, has a silver lining. Though it is difficult to see anything positive in the grisly Kamala mills tragedy that claimed 14 lives, some rolling heads in the aftermath, may bring some cheer yet. The sheer outrage after that event had forced the government and the authorities in various states across the country to have a fresh look at safety standards and wrecking crews got busy locating and demolishing unauthorized construction and shutting down those without proper licenses and permissions.  In Mumbai, the movement was still on in the second week March.
 
Importantly, the public is assisting the movement by alerting authorities wherever they see irregularities. This vigor was absent till the Kamala mills jolt. The BMC has shut down eight restaurants in Bandra’s upscale ONGC Colony Lane for carrying out illegal constructions and fire-safety violations. The ONGC Colony Lane houses 11 restaurants, a take-way food joint, a bakery, and a café and they all have been served notices and given a month’s time to comply. The restaurants whose licenses have been suspended are: Door No 1, Broaster Chicken, Doolally Taproom, Quench, Candies, Scribble Stories, Café Coffee Day and Ms LJ Restaurant.
 
Assistant Municipal Commissioner, H-west ward, Sharad Ughade said the licenses were cancelled after the restaurants failed to comply with fire safety norms despite being served notices. “Their operations will remain suspended till they fully comply with fire-safety norms and get rid of all illegal constructions,” he said.
 
Sources said some restaurants had converted garages into eating areas without any change-of- use permissions. In January-February this year, BMC had initiated “seizure action” against some of these restaurants by taking away their chairs and tables.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner, H-west ward, Sharad Ughade said he had also initiated a probe into how these restaurants secured NOCs despite grave fire-safety violations. “I will investigate the matter.
We will revoke the licenses permanently if owners don’t comply,” he said. Last month, local BJP legislator Ashish Shelar had taken up the issue of mushrooming illegal restaurants in the ONGC Colony Lane.
Shelar had met Additional Municipal Commissioner I A Kundan and pointed out unauthorised constructions carried out by these restaurants. Shelar also wrote a letter to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta about these restaurants. “We are not against any particular restaurant, but there is no way will tolerate such violations. If the restaurants are fire traps, they endanger the safety of their customers and neighbouring residents too,” he said.
Soon after the Kamala Mills fire, Ughade had launched a crackdown on illegal restaurants in Bandra.  A local daily had reported last month, that Sheesha Sky Lounge, a popular rooftop restaurant in Bandra, was forced to down shutters with the civic administration threatening to revoke its eating-house permit for allegedly serving hookah without permission and failing to remove unauthorised structures.