In a classic case of apathy, the inspection carried out by the State Energy Department, into a fire that broke out at the Golden Chariot Hotel, located at Hub Mall, Goregaon East, in December last year, has remained on paper and the hotel has resumed normal operations despite the fire brigade revoking an NOC granted to it.
The hotel was gutted by a massive fire on December 29, 2016 and the hotel management was accused of carrying out structural changes and blocking fire exits, which allegedly led to delay in putting off the fire.
When contacted Pravin Agarwal, one of the Directors of the Golden Chariot Retreats and Infra Private Limited told The Afternoon D & C that, “It was a small fire and now everything is in order and the hotel has been functioning normally.” When asked about the cause of the fire, he replied, “You ask this to the fire brigade.”
In turn, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Vijaykumar Panigrahi maintained that the NOC granted to the hotel has already been revoked and all the facts have been placed before the BMC’s P south ward office. Now it is the responsibility of the respective ward office to verify whether the hotel is open or closed down.
In its report dated 6th March 2017, the fire brigade had stated, "It seems there are discrepancies in the area, encroachment, unauthorised addition/alteration, construction of loft, etc. in the said premise... In view of the above, the NOC/requirement letter issued under no. FBL/S/106/1076 dated 01/11/2006 by this department stands cancelled."
Whereas Assistant Municipal Commissioner Santosh Dhond claimed that the BMC has taken necessary action and served notice to the hotel owner, but he has moved the court in the matter.
But basically, the whole inquiry is shrouded in mystery. As per the information collected by activist Sulaiman Bhimani through RTI query, the Assistant Electrical Inspector of the State Energy Department, in his report dated 18 January 2017 has stated that the fire broke due to the combustion of oil accumulated in the chimney when it came in contact with a spark emanated from the tandoor oven. The same report also stated that there was no trace of a short circuit. However the manager of the hotel tried to manipulate that the fire emanated from the switchboard, Bhimani said.
Commenting on the alleged “hide and seek” between the fire brigade and the BMC, Bhimani said that when a fire breaks out, everyone shouts and announcement of “strict implementation of fire safety norms” is made but after a few days everything is back to square one and authorities themselves leave loopholes to enable the guilty to circumvent the action.
In another development, the designated officer, P Southward has sent notices under section 488 of the BMC Act, on 25 March 2017, to different occupants of the Hub Mall, including “Palasia Saloon” saying that the inspection of their premises will be carried out anytime on 29 March 2017. This is nothing else but an attempt to pressurise them so that they do not reveal anything to outsiders about the laxities within the mall, Bhimani said.
Additional Municipal Commissioner (Western Suburbs)
Kiran Kumar Chavan
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.
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
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
i) The Fire exit was converted in to cold storage
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)
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 Noticethe 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a letter that has been forwarded to me to help raise attention to this serious issue:
Dear Sir /Madam,
I live on the 11th Floor of Embassy Apartments, N.S. Road, right next to P.D.P and just down the road from Mont Blanc where the fire last night took the lives of atl east 6 people.
In our building the resident of the TOP FLOOR (12th), has closed the staircase and terrace with locked doors, so he may control the entire 12th floor & terrace including the landing and lobby. The Terrace on which the Water Tank is installed is also under this persons control with lock and key. Despite notices from the Fire Brigade the doors remain in place. In case of a Fire in our building, we have no place to escape, except to the terrace, and that way is closed. This danger to the safety of the residents of our building is allowed to remain because this Top Floor resident claims to be very politically connected. Even the society Managing Committee supports this barricading as he is on the committee and business associate of the society secretary.
I have been fighting the local ward office to have these doors removed for the past 3 years. They even issued a Notice to the Society & the top floor resident under section 55 of the M.R.T.P. Act (Copy enclosed). But then under political pressure from (copy of letter sent by politician to MCGM available with me) from the Top Floor, the Ward Officer gave in writing that the MRTP order will not be pursued further.
I have attached some pictures showing the barricaded staircase in our building along with this email.
As a concerned citizen of this city who is being made to run pillar to post to ensure the safety of his family in the event of a fire in my building, I write to you with a last hope that you may deem this a fit case to expose this total lackadaisical approach the MCGM has towards the safety of the citizens of Mumbai. My building is another tragedy waiting to happen.
If you would like to follow through on this story, please contact me on 9821113288. I look forward to your positive response.
Here is a copy of the notice served to the society and top floor resident by the local ward office: