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In turn, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Vijaykumar Panigrahi maintained that the NOC granted to the hotel has already been revoked and all the facts have been placed before the BMC’s P south ward office.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.