Mumbai: The final report of the three-member Judicial Commission probing the Kamala Mills fire incident has brought the worst news for the owners of 1Above and Mojo Bistro restaurants. The commission has recommended action against the owners because of the rampant illegalities and breach of permissions committed by them.
The report has been a major setback for Kripesh Sanghvi, Paresh Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar of 1Above and Yug Tuli, Yug Pathak and Yashwant Bagade of the Mojo’s Bistro to restaurant. The commission headed by Chief Justice (retd.) Arvind Savant said, “In our view, the owners are guilty of several breaches and deviations of the two NOCs granted to them by the Fire Officer of the civic body.”
“The owners of both the restaurants have committed flagrant violations in converting the entire open terrace into two full fledged restaurants divided by a partition of highly combustible material and covered by equally inflammable material, such as cotton curtains, plastic covers, etc,” the commission has said.
The commission has further said that the owners of 1Above and Mojo Bistro operated their restaurants on the terrace, which was illegally covered by them, instead of the very small area for which license was issued to them by the Medical Oflicer of Health (MOH).
“They continued to use this area on terrace in spite of Inspection Reports and prosecution by the MOH. The most serious deviation/violation was to permit serving of Hookah on the open terrace without complying with the relevant mandatory statutory requirements.”
According to the report, the owners had blocked the rear side of the terrace and the area was used for stocking inflammable material such as liquor, kerosene and coal. It further mentions that the terrace area was used for smoking and serving Hookah without complying wiith the relevant provisions of the COTPA 2OO3 and the Smoke Free Rules 2008.
In its detailed report, the commission has taken into account the fact that there were no trained staff in either of the restaurants, who could have guided the patrons to exit safely. “To make the situation worse and fatal for the patrons who died due to asphyxia and also those who suffered burn injuries, there was no trained staff or security personnel to guide them in case of an emergency,” the report reads.
“What happened was extremely shocking, in as much as, one of the waiters of 1Above, directed the 13 unfortunate patrons to the illegally constructed toilet block which had only one narrow entrance, with neither any exit nor any ventilation,” the report reads.
The commission has further said, “The cumulative result of the illegalities was that all the 13 persons, as also the deceased waiter of 1Above, who took them inside the toilet for safety, died due to asphyxia. Obviously, he also did not know where the emergency exits were, since all the exits were blocked.”