Mumbai,(The Hindu): In a major crackdown, the BMC demolished illegal structures at 314 sites and sealed seven restaurants on Saturday, a day after the fire at a restaurant in Kamala Mills claimed 14 lives. The civic body initiated an inspection drive of 624 restaurants, eateries and malls in the city and suburbs, and razed unauthorised structures at 314 sites.
The BMC deployed over 1,000 civic employees for the drive that began early on Saturday. Three teams were formed in each of the city’s 24 wards, Additional Municipal Commissioner (City) A.L. Jarhad said. “The illegal structures had been there for some time but we were unable to act due to stay orders from courts. Today the Municipal Commissioner empowered us to go all out and act against restaurants. We removed illegal sheds, inspected premises and even cleared hurdles blocking exit corridors of restaurants. The BMC Commissioner has instructed ward officers and law department officers to ensure that such stay orders, obtained by hotels for protection against demolitions, be vacated at the earliest. This is not a one-off operation; action will be taken on a continuous basis.”
Overseeing the operations were three Additional Municipal Commissioners: I.A. Kundan, Vijay Singhal and Mr. Jarhad. The civic administration has asked its entire staff to remain on duty. Leave and weekly offs of staff of several departments, including the Anti-Encroachment department, have been cancelled. They have been given a detailed list of restaurants and pubs where violations were found during preliminary inspections.
Civic teams removed illegal roofs of restaurants Skyview Cafe and Social in Kamala Mills, and encroachments by Pranay, Fumes and Sheesha Sky Lounge in the same compound. A major portion of the popular Zaffran restaurant, located opposite the police headquarters in south Mumbai, was removed. BMC officers said unauthorised structures erected by hotels and restaurants in suburbs like Malad and Mulund are facing action as well. Areas targeted included Shivaji Park, Mulund, Dahisar, Malad, the Parsi Gymkhana near Marine Lines, Grant Road, Andheri and Ghatkopar.
Santosh Shetty, president, Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said, “It’s unfair to tar the entire hotel fraternity with the same brush. While there may be some black sheep, all restaurants can’t be termed as fire-risks. Our organisation, which has over 7,000 restaurant owners as members, regularly gets fire safety workshops conducted by fire officers, in which they instruct us on electrical installations, fire safety appliances and how to evacuate people during fires.”
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’s Eve festivities.
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