Mumbai, Sep 12: The Bombay High Court-appointed judicial committee inquiring into the fire at Kamala Mills Compound revealed several safety violations made by a co-owner of the premises and owners of the two restaurants and recommended action against them. 14 people lost their lives in the fire at two rooftop restaurants — Mojo’s Bistro and ‘1 Above’ — at Kamala Mills Compound on December 29, 2017.
The three-member committee submitted its report to the high court on Monday. It was made available Wednesday evening. The judicial panel said the owners of the two restaurants violated several safety measures while converting the entire open terrace into two full-fledged restaurants. Ramesh Gowani, a co-owner of Kamala Mills Compound let the restaurants owners to make unauthorised additions to the structures, it said.
“The owners of both the restaurants 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. To make the situation… fatal for the patrons who died due to asphyxia…there was no trained staff or security personnel to guide them in case of emergency,” the panel said. Pub Fire: Co-owners of Kamala Mills Compound Get Bail.
“The rear side of the terrace was blocked, and the terrace area was used for stocking inflammable material such as liquor, kerosene and coal. Also, the terrace was used for serving hookah. All of these were in violation of the licence terms and the fire norms,” the committee added. It also revealed that a waiter of '1 Above' directed 13 patrons to illegally constructed toilet block which had no exit or ventilation.
As a result, all 13 and the waiter himself died of suffocation, the panel said. The three-member committee headed by Justice (retired) A V Savant and including architect Vasant Thakur and former municipal commissioner K Nalinakshan also accused Superintendent of State Excise A B Chaksar and Excise Inspector Sandeep More and Vijay Thorat of ignoring violations of licence terms at the two restaurants.
The panel was formed in April last year by a bench headed by Justice Bhushan Gavai in response to a public interest litigation filed by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Riberio demanding safety audit of all restaurants and pubs in Mumbai. Gowani and six owners of the two restaurants were arrested by police after the fire. (With agency inputs)