Mumbai

100 illegal structures demolished in BMC crackdown after pub blaze


Mumbai, Dec 30 (PTI): In a major crackdown, civic officials in Mumbai today demolished illegal structures in at least 100 restaurants and pubs, a day after a blaze in an upscale pub claimed 14 lives.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) initiated a mega demolition drive and had razed illegal, unauthorised structures of at least 100 restaurants and pubs across the city till afternoon, an official said.

As many as 1,000 officials and employees of the civic body had hit the streets and become a part of the exercise, he added.

"The unauthorised hotels and restaurants, not only in central Mumbai but also those located in the distant suburbs, such as Malad and Mulund, are facing action," BMC spokesperson Ram Dotonde said.

A major portion of the popular Zaffran Hotel, located opposite the police headquarters in south Mumbai, was removed, he added.

"There are 24 wards in Mumbai and each has three teams personally inspecting all the restaurants, pubs, food joints and eateries. Each team has 10 members, including officials from the health and administration departments and inspectors," he said.

Once the team finds an unauthorised structure, it is brought down immediately, Dotonde added.

The civic administration has asked its entire staff to remain on duty. Leave and weekly offs of the staff of several departments, including the anti-encroachment department, have been cancelled and they have been given a detailed list of restaurants and pubs, where violations were found during the preliminary inspection, he said.

"The number of eateries and restaurants, where the unauthorised structures have been removed so far, must be more than 100. The action will continue till we remove all such structures," the spokesperson added.

The other areas where the drive was carried out included Shivaji Park, Mulund, Dahisar, Malad, the Parsi Gymkhana near Marine Lines, Grant Road, Andheri and Ghatkopar.

The civic body has also directed its officials to form teams to ensure that restaurants and bars follow the safety norms, in view of the New Year parties.

Early in the morning, the civic teams removed the illegal roofs of two restaurants -- 'Skyview Café' and 'Social' at Kamala Mills as also encroachments of 'Pranay', 'Fumes' and 'Sheesha Sky Lounge' at Raghuvanshi Mills in the same locality, BMC officials said.

Civic chief Ajoy Mehta, in a message to all the BMC assistant municipal commissioners and deputy commissioners, said all zonal deputy commissioners and ward officers were requested to form a team comprising the staff of the building and factory departments, medical health officer and the fire department.

The teams will inspect all the restaurants in their respective wards and ensure that they are fire-compliant, the message said.

The premises should have fire-escape routes, staircases and open spaces, free from encroachment, it added.

After the blaze, the BMC had yesterday suspended five officials for "dereliction of duty".

A fire brigade official said they were trying to ascertain what exactly had triggered the inferno.

"We are probing if the flames created during a fire-stunt by a bartender at the pub came in contact with plastic sheets that covered the bamboo structure and triggered the blaze. We are also trying to find out whether the burning coal used for hookah at the adjacent restaurant led to the tragedy," he said.

"We are also taking into consideration all other possibilities, including that of a short-circuit," he added.

Meanwhile, a senior police official said that lookout notices were today issued against Hitesh Sanghvi and Jigar Sanghvi, the co-owners of '1 Above', the ill-fated pub which caught fire. The pub was run by 'C Grade Hospitality'.

Yesterday, the police had booked the Sanghvi brothers, another co-owner Abhijeet Manka and others in connection with the case.

The massive fire that had swept through the pub left 14 people dead and 21 injured. The same central Mumbai area -- a former textile mill district, now dotted by swanky glass-and-concrete towers -- had witnessed the death of 23 people in a stampede at a railway overbridge on September 29.


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