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Flouting of norms continues

Saturday, June 03, 2017
By Raju Vernekar

The Golden Chariot hotel and its sister concern Balaji Grand do not seem in the mood to take permissions of the concerned authorities before carrying out any activities in their premises

While the issue of the suspension of trade license of the Golden Chariot Hotel at Goregon, following a massive fire in December last year is still to be resolved, the Golden Chariot’s sister concern involved in similar irregularities has been continuing despite revocation of its license too.

A huge fire broke out at the Golden Chariot located at the Hub Mall, Goregon East, in December last and the management was accused of carrying out structural changes, in violation of the safety norms. The hotel’s Eating House trade License No. 761434569 was cancelled by the BMC. But, subsequently the Golden Chariot challenged the revocation of license.

After hearing the arguments advanced in the notice of motion, the Principal Judge of the City Civil Court, vide his order dated April 13, 2017, stayed the suspension of the license till June 30, 2017. As such the Golden Chariot has continued with its routine business. Now, the matter is slated to come up for hearing on June 30, 2017.

It maybe recalled, that the application for trade license of the 'Golden Chariot Hospitality Services Private Limited' was rejected by the fire brigade on October 13, 2014, for not producing relevant documents and also due to the discrepancies in the documents. Subsequently, the license was granted to the hotel.

However, it has also come to light that Golden Chariot’s sister concern 'Balaji Grand' located in the same premises, also sails in the same boat. Based on a complaint by the Right To Information (RTI) activists Shaikh Fakruddin Juned and Sulaiman Bhimani, the Divisional Fire Officer (DFO) A V Bangar, vide his letter dated February 12, 2016 had directed 'Balaji Grand' not to carry out trade activities till all the safety norms are implemented. Subsequently the BMC’s Assistant Commissioner (P South) on December 1, 2016 had issued a show cause notice to 'Balaji Grand' asking why its trade license No. 887353104 should not be revoked.

But according to the complainants Shaikh and Bhimani, “Balaji Grand has been continuing its activities regardless of the action by the BMC and the fire department. The 'Balaji Grand' has obtained the trade license showing the operational area as 188.56 square mtrs, whereas the hotel was using 216 square mtrs area. Besides, it had kept very narrow passage of 2.8 mtrs for patrons to access wash rooms.

The hotel has also erected a loft over the kitchen area without obtaining the approval of the concerned authorities including the fire department, which was highly objectionable from the safety point of view. Also, the kitchen was not provided with a rear exit as per the requirement of the fire department’s No Objection Certificate (NOC) No. FBL/S/409/67 dated April 16, 2009 which was highly objectionable.

When contacted, the Balaji Grand officials maintained that a relevant explanation has been given and the documents are submitted to the concerned authorities. However, according to Shaikh and Bhimani, the stay granted for the Golden Chariot cannot be used as a blanket to cover the irregularities in Balaji Grand.

POSTED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081
sulaimanbhimani11@gmail.com

Link to the news paper http://www.afternoondc.in/city-news/flouting-of-norms-continues/article_196342 

No BMC action against Golden Chariot

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
By Raju Vernekar
Although the fire brigade has cancelled the NOC granted to the Golden Chariot Hotel, located at Hub Mall, Goregaon East, which was gutted in a massive fire on 29th December, 2016, the BMC is yet to take action against the hotel which was accused of blocking fire-exits and carrying out structural changes that allegedly led to delay in putting off the fire.
 Deputy Chief Officer has cancelled the NOC (FBL/S/106/1076 dated 01/11/2006) granted to the hotel, vide his letter dated 6 th March 2017. However BMC’s P South ward office maintain that  although the notices have been issued to the hotel for violation of safety norms, the hotel has moved the court and the court has granted a stay in the matter.
Basically in the writ petition (105/2017) filed by the Golden Chariot Hospitality Services Private Limited against the state government, the rule is yet to be granted. When the petition came up for hearing for the first time, a bench comprising justices Naresh Patil and M.S.Karnik observed that, “Registry has not produced papers and proceedings of the present writ petition. Hence it stand over to 22 February 2017. In the meantime registry to trace out and ensure that papers are produced on next date of the hearing. Now the petition is to scheduled to come up for hearing on23 March 2017.

Speaking to The Afternoon D & C, Assistant Municipal Commissioner Santosh Dhond said, “The BMC has taken required action in the matter. But now the court has granted a stay in the matter”.

Senior Inspector of Police Jyotsna Vilas Rasam of Vanrai Police station said that the cases have been registered against the hotel under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act 1966, as advised by the BMC. “We are moving as per the instructions of the BMC, which is supposed to look after the issues like how fire broke out ? whether unauthorised structural changes led to aggravation of fire ? etc”, she added.

RTI activists Krishnraj Rao, Shaikh Fakhruddin Junaid and Sulaiman Bhimani, who have been monitoring the case, maintained that the Deputy Municipal Commissioner Kiran Achrekar and Deputy Chief Fire Officer V N Panigrahi had ordered the closure of the hotel long back.

But the hotel continues to function, may be due to collusion with the  BMC officers. Initially the officers dragged their feet making it easy for the accused to move the court, they alleged.

It may be recalled that a complaint report of the Chief Fire Officer dated 14 November 2014, had pointed out many irregularities including unauthorised structural changes, closure of fire exits etc and had directed the BMC’s P south ward to take immediate action in the matter. The report stated that “The P ward shall be asked to urgently visit the premises to verify the license and the area of trade and activities of the “Golden Chariot Restaurant” and take appropriate action under section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1888, to stop unauthorised utilisation of additional area of the common passage for restaurant activities. The action of the hotel management could not be obtained despite many attempts. The catering staff at the restaurant said that everything was normal after the fire and now the hotel was functioning routinely
The high Court has not Granted stay to Golden Chariot but the AMC Psouth is protecting the culprit, the matter in the High Court is kept for admission and circulation as per High Court website
POSTED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081

To,

Mrs. I A Kundan

Additional Municipal Commissioner (Western Suburbs)
To 
CFO,
To 
ACB Mumbai
To
DCP
Kiran Kumar  Chavan

To
DMC
Kiran Achrekar

Sub: A) High Level Corruption in Fire Department, CFO Fails to submit Fire report even after three weeks of fire incident to favor owner of Golden Chariot and fails to initiate prosecution proceeding against the owner of Golden Chariot Restaurant even after incident of Fire taking place on 28th December 2016.

  1. B) CFO had already issued 3 notices to the Golden chariot restaurantfor non compliance of Fire Safety Norms in last three years, but chooses not to take any action due to vested interest risking life of many innocent citizens
  1. C) The MOH and Fire Brigade Department have rejected the application for the trade license of M/s. Golden Chariot Hospitality Service Pvt. Ltd.but the restaurant is ruining and doing business as usual

Respected Sir / Madam

This is a clear case of undue favor given to Golden Chariot Restaurant at Hub Mall, Goregaon East, THE CFO,  MOH B&F department of MCGM and Police fail to take any action after the incident of fire took placed on 28th December 2016,

The Fire department till date has not submitted their report even after three weeks to the police for further investigation and prosecution of filing FIR.

The Fire Department have already issued 3 notices before to the Golden Chariot restaurant for non compliance of fire safety norms before incident of fire took placed on 28th December 2016,

The offences are of serious nature

  1. i) The Fire exit was converted in to cold storage 
  2. ii) The passage leading to Fire exit was encroached and converted into restaurant dining area  

iii) The AHU's and Electric rooms converted into commercial rooms (these are free of FSI loss to the state and violation of FSI norms)

  1. iv) The common ladies toilets were modified and altered without any approval of any authorities into ladies and gents, and were illegally taken in to the restaurant denying access to visitors of the MALL

All the above have lapses and observation have been mentioned in the all the three notices issued time and again

1st Notice the inspection by the fire brigade department of the MCGM. On inspection of the site, the said authority submitted a report dated 16.1.13 to CFO with necessary recommendations and actions to be in initiated. The report clearly directed that the activities of the said restaurant be verified and necessary action be taken.

2nd Notice report dated 19.6.14 to the Dy. CFO which recommends the following actions:

a.) Verification addition/alteration amalgamation, encroachment of fire exit, removal of unauthorized fire exit passage, toilet, loft etc.

b.) To direct the party to keep the necessary no. of fire extinguishers as directed by the said authority.

3rd Notice by MCGM, fire brigade department once again submitted a complaint report dated 14.11.14 to the CFO. The highlights of the observations in the said report are as follows:

  1. a)In the north side landing on the second floor, the staircase landing was partially obstructed by keeping refrigerator and other things by the Golden Chariot restaurant and an unauthorized construction of the steel frame plywood sheet enclosure box of A.C. unit and a steel ladder for access to the loft in encroached area of common passage by the Golden Chariot restaurant.
  2. b)The common toilet block along with its approach passage and way to emergency exit of north side staircase was blocked for public use by illegally encroaching and utilizing it for restaurant activity by Golden chariot Restaurant.
  3. c)The amalgamation of two shops n0. 23 and 24 along with its front common passage was done and merged it in dining area by Golden Chariot Restaurant without taking NOC and sanctioning the plan fromthe Fire Brigade Department.
  4. d)In view of the above circumstance, I have to inform you that the MOH and Fire Brigade Department have rejected the application for the trade license of M/s. Golden Chariot Hospitality Service Pvt. Ltd.

The period to rectify and make necessary changes or to meet the compliance as per law is 120 days after giving the notice, more than 120 days have lapsed and no compliance has been met till date Under Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measure Act, 2006 Rules there is a provision to start prosecution proceedings by lodging FIR regarding non compliance of fire and life safety regulation by competent authority i.e. Mumbai fire Brigade. But Mumbai Fire Brigade failed to take any action reason best known to them or were they were bribed is question that will come to anybody’s mind

There should be departmental Inquiry on the involvement of Fire Brigade staff, P/ South ward MCGM concerned officers and the police officers of vanrai and they should be dealt strictly in accordance with law and should not only be suspended but criminal proceeding should be initiated against them

We would like to draw your attention to Section 10 of the Transfers and Delays Act 21 of 2006/ (64C of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act) which mandates that no decision can be kept pending for over 3 months. In the instant case, no action is initiated despite the complaints are made from December 20115, we request to conduct a preliminary enquiry to fix responsibility on the officers responsible for this delay and take appropriate disciplinary action against them. We request that the report of the enquiry may please be sent to us

We further wish to bring to your knowledge certain penal provisions which bring the CFO. MCGM Staff (i.e. MOH, B& F dept.) under the purview:

The Indian Penal Code

IPC 217: Public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture

IPC 218: Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture

IPC 218: Intentional omission to apprehend on the part of public servant bound to apprehend.

Thanking you in anticipation of immediate action

Sincerely Yours

Sulaiman Bhimani

President

Citizens Justice Forum

+919323642081

Citizensjusticeforum@gmail.com

Copy of letter to CFO along withNotices attached requesting to take action against Golden chariot restaurant dated13th July 2015.

Copy Of letter to Vanrai Policestation and Asst Commissioner P/South ward to take action against GoldenChariot restaurant, dated 9th Jan 2015.

News Paper coverage

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-hub-mall-fire-brings-to-fore-irregularities-4449627/

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-fire-in-goregaons-hub-mall-no-one-hurt/17867174

http://www.afternoondc.in/city-news/not-so-golden-this-chariot/article_184619

iot

Monday, 9 March, 2015, Mumbai: Imagine you are enjoying dinner with your family at Golden Chariot restaurant, on the second floor of Goregaon's famous mall, The Hub. Suddenly, you see smoke. No, not the delicious smoke from a sizzler, but the black, rubbery-smelling smoke from a short-circuit. An uncontrolled blaze has broken out in the building. People are shouting, "Fire! Fire!" and stampeding in panic. But you are calm. You guide your family to the nearest door that says, "FIRE EXIT". But you are shocked to find that this door only leads to toilets and an enclosed room where drinks and junk are being stored! It does not lead to a staircase! You angrily start yelling at the Golden Chariot employees, asking where is the nearest genuine fire exit door that leads to a staircase. But nobody replies; people are running helter-skelter, the dimly-lit restaurant is filling up with thick smoke, and the temperature is rising.

1 False Fire Exit sign no 2 -- Golden Chariot

Photo 1: Activist Sulaiman Bhimani (right) shows a false Fire exit no. 1 in Golden Chariot restaurant. The fire exit has been illegally enclosed and converted into a storage area.

Then you see another large door in the same hall marked "FIRE EXIT". You push the door desperately, but the door does not open. It is locked! Your wife and children are depending on you, and you are wasting precious minutes by leading them into dead ends!

2 False Fire Exit no 3 -- Golden Chariot

Photo 2: Sulaiman Bhimani pushes Fire exit no. 2 in Golden Chariot, to show that the door is kept locked and will not open.

Finally, you all manage to run out of Golden Chariot restaurant, and reach the fire-exit staircase. You see other people going down the staircase, and you feel reassured that only two floors down, there is a door to exit the burning building.

But when you reach the ground floor, you are in for another shock: the door for going out of the building is chain-locked from outside! You can peep outside and shout, but the opening is too narrow to get out of!

3 Chained from outside -- Ground floor fire exit 2
Photo 3: On ground floor, one fire exit is chained from outside.

 

4 Chained from outside close up -- fire exit 2 at ground floor
Photo 4: A close-up showing the chain-locked door.

The crowd that is trapped with you is pushing, shoving and turning into a panicky stampeding mob. You all try running to another door, and this one is locked from within!

5 Chain locked -- Hub mall ground floor fire exit 1
Photo 5: Another ground-floor fire-exit, locked from inside. Imagine being trapped by this door while trying to escape a fire!

Many of the ways out of Hub Mall seem to be barred! By now, the boxes of goods and inflammable junk that are stored in the fire-exit by Big Bazaar in the basement have caught fire, and the stairwell is starting to feel like the chimney of a furnace! Thoughts of the 59 people who died in the Uphaar Cinema tragedy behind closed fire-exits flashes through your mind...

Is your family safe when it visits The Hub? On the contrary, it has been converted into an accident-waiting-to-happen. Next time you visit to Goregaon's Hub Mall, please take the trouble to walk around the fire-escape doors and walk up and down the stairwells. See for yourself how many fireexit doors are closed, and how many fire-exit passages have been encroached by greedy hoteliers and storekeepers.

Motivated by whistleblower Shaikh Fakhruddin "Fakhru" Junaid, who owns a shop on the second floor, RTI activists Sulaiman Bhimani and Krishnaraj Rao took such a walk on Saturday, and they took photographs of the hazards. Are the authorities aware of these hazards? Absolutely! Fakhru has been complaining to Mumbai Fire Brigade for the last two years, and the Chief Fire Officer's office has written to the Municipal Corporation noting the grave violations. The office of the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) reported various violations to MCGM on 14th November 2014.

CFO's letter: http://tinyurl.com/CFO-Golden-Chariot
Fakhru's letters to MCGM: http://tinyurl.com/Complaint-Golden-Chariot

Highlights of the CFO's observations:

  1. "In the north side landing on the second floor, the staircase landing was partially obstructed by keeping refrigerator and other things by the Golden Chariot restaurant and an unauthorized construction of the steel frame plywood sheet enclosure box for A.C. Unit and a steel ladder for access to the loft in encroached area of common passage by the Golden Chariot restaurant.
  2. "The common toilet block along with its approach passage and way to emergency exit of north side staircase was blocked for public use by illegally encroaching and utilizing it for restaurant activity by Golden Chariot Restaurant."
  3. "The amalgamation of two shop no. 23 and 24 along with its front common passage was done and merged it in the dining area by Golden Chariot restaurant without taking NOC and sanctioning the plan from the Fire Brigade Department."
  4. "In view of the above circumstances, I have to inform you that the MOH and Fire Brigade Department have already rejected the application for the trade licence of M/s Golden Chariot Hospitality Services Pvt. Ltd..."

Ok, so let's get this straight: Golden Chariot doesn't even have a licence to manufacture and serve food, but even then, it is not only serving food, but also alcohol. And it holds live performances!

6 Golden Chariot -- Happy hour and live ghazal
Photo 6: No licence to even serve food... but here they are, serving drinks and holding live performances!

However, the police sees fit to give this dangerous unlicensed restaurant a license to attract the public by holding live performances! See this police performance license: http://tinyurl.com/Performance-Golden-Chariot

Bear in mind, private house parties have been raided by cops, and named and shamed in the media for serving liquor and organizing an unlicensed performance for a single evening! So, the question arises whether the excise department and the police department is hand-in-glove with the restaurant owners? How come they have not cracked down on such blatant and continuing violations of various laws and public safety norms?

One must keep wondering… because yeh hai Mumbai, meri jaan!

Big Bazaar – a bomb in the basement

The story however does not end with Golden Chariot. Big Bazaar, which is situated in the basement of Goregaon’s Hub Mall, is another dangerous violator. Not only is it carrying on business illegally in the basement (a major MRTP violation), but further compounding the hazards, Big Bazaar has blocked numerous fire escapes with shopping carts, cartons of inflammable goods, and huge piles of garbage. See these photos taken on Saturday.

7 What lies inside Big Bazaar's fire exit

Photo 7: This Big Bazaar fire exit is filled with goods, weighing machines, etc.

8 Big Bazaar uses Fire Escape for storage and backroom operations
Photo 8: In this fire exit, Big Bazaar carries on backroom operations.

9 Fire escape of Hub Mall Big Bazaar -- obstructed and used for trade

Photo 9: This stairwell is used to store flammable junk, and backroom operations.

See many more high-res photos of Fire Safety Hazards of Hub Mall, Big Bazaar and Golden Chariot: http://tinyurl.com/Photos-Hub-Mall-Golden-Chariot

Journalists interested in knowing more may contact:
Fakruddin: 08879-414793
Jyoti Ladwal: 098-20-607950
Akash Dhupar: 099-20-752746
Human Rights & RTI Activist Sulaiman Bhimani 093-23-642081

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
9821588114

2

In 2006, I attended an event of ISABS. I had just returned to Mumbai after spending several years in the mountains, and was still missing rural life. So when the community turned out to have two activists from rural Andhra Pradesh, who also happened to share the room next to mine, I tended to prefer their company

They were from Timbaktu. Kidding you not. It is a real place in/near Anantpur. The name caught my fancy, and I was curious. Dinesh also had vast knowledge of flora and fauna, which was very interesting.

Till then I knew zero about the agrarian crisis. I was rural, but hey, it doesn't get lush greener than Himachal (on this side of the rain shadow). Drought was something from black and white films or at worst, lesser crop for a year. Climate problems were more like snow being late, which meant a lower crop for the apples, but not the end of the world. "These activist types exaggerate everything" I thought, but it was better to "over care" about these things than the crap I was finding in the city anyway. By crap, I mean the average city attitude of not being bothered about the world around them, which was very garish after my long stay in the villages and wilds.

So I gravitated toward Dinesh and the colleague of his, Ashish who were attending, because they were rural folk. I enjoyed their company and thought all was good.

On the contrary, Ashish hit out at me viciously (verbally) saying stuff like he couldn't relate with the "likes of me" in the middle of some conversation. Very puzzling, because I liked him. So I asked him, and he spoke of inequality, and I was one of the "haves" - a callous person who lived in plenty while people died of hunger. I was astonished. It was unreasonable. I was the one in the torn shorts. Not him. Dinesh was the one with the laptop. So I challenged him on how I was a have and Dinesh or he weren't.

And out it came pouring. Difficulties farmers face because cities develop, and policies follow them, and so on. Farmers committing suicide because of failing crops and overwhelming debt. Lack of facilities to support agriculture, lack of water. It sounded like a tough deal, but I pointed out that I had led a rural life too, and was certainly not one of the "haves" as he said. If I had a choice, it would definitely favor the rural India.

We got along well after that, but I never forgot that blaze of anger. It made me curious as to what deprivation this person was seeing that he held me responsible for. What was it that was arousing such feelings? And I found out. I asked him, heard hours and hours worth his thoughts, stories, fears, concerns... there was little happiness.

They spoke of efforts for saving indigenous seeds, farming methods, loans, credit, weather, crop cycles, people committing suicide, indigenous species, genetically modified crops and such. I hadn't thought of eating genetically modified food till then. I was totally amazed to know that I was already doing it. The farmers suicides sounded surreal. Frankly, I didn't believe them. Who would commit suicide because of a crop failing? Try again next year!

I was naive, but I learned. And I came home and learned more (that part you know. I just dig in till I find out). News speaking of farmers, suicides, agriculture, and rural India in general started catching my attention and I followed it vaguely. Over time, I started developing some understanding of what was happening.

I am glad that I got on this track, because till then, I simply wasn't aware of most of India and its realities. Things take on a new context when you are thinking of a whole rather than a permanently segmented view or worse, a small cross section and imagining it to be representative of the whole. It helped me understand various objections and "anti-progress" attitudes that later turned out to be disagreements by people representing thoughts of significant populations on the publicized popular views.

India is a diverse country, and this learning curve helps me understand some of that diversity.