The ‘culinary flight’ of the government owned Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation, popularly known as MILKFED Punjab (which owns the brand Verka), has landed in trouble even before its takeoff.
Even as construction and renovation work of converting a scrap airplane into a restaurant is in progress over the past five months at the Verka Milk Bar premises in Ludhiana on Ferozepur Road, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and the fire safety department has now claimed that the state owned body has not taken any permissions or fire safety NOC (no-objection certificates).
The owners had even announced that the restaurant would start functioning soon and a banner announcing this has been put up outside Verka Milk Bar. However, the civic body and the fire department have asserted that Milkfed cannot proceed with the opening of airplane restaurant for the public unless all safety norms are implemented.
Kamaljeet Kaur, municipal town planner (MTP) Ludhiana MC, said, “We were of the view that the airplane would be used for ornamental purpose. We were not aware that it is being converted into a restaurant and that seating and kitchen areas will be inside it. As per MC building bylaws, any construction has to start after getting prior approval but our office has not issued any permission to this Milkfed project till now. An MC team will soon conduct an inspection of the site and permit will be issued only if safety norms are implemented.”
Bhupinder Singh, assistant divisional fire officer, fire safety department of Ludhiana MC also said, “Milkfed has not been issued any NOC.”
“Public places such as restaurants cannot start functioning until fire safety NOC is issued. They have to show us proper fire exits and how the kitchen inside will be safe. Fire safety office has not issued any NOC to this airplane restaurant yet. I will get it checked,” said Singh.
Milkfed has leased out its land to Kulwant Singh for Rs 1 lakh a month for the airplane restaurant. Kulwant Singh claimed that all safety norms would be followed. “We are replacing the seats inside while other structural features will remain the same to give customers a feel of an airplane. We are following all safety norms.”
Ajmer Singh Bhagpur, chairman, Verka Milk Plant, said “All formalities will be completed. The airplane has been placed at a property owned by Milkfed but we were not aware of all these formalities. We will get them completed,” he said.
Acting MC commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said, “Structural safety is required and must be ensured in any case. I will direct the building branch to look into the matter. As per building laws, it is not specified what norms should be followed if an airplane is converted into a restaurant but we have to look into the safety aspect anyhow.”