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In turn, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Vijaykumar Panigrahi maintained that the NOC granted to the hotel has already been revoked and all the facts have been placed before the BMC’s P south ward office.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