Even as the state government contemplates reviewing the rooftop restaurant policy approved by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on November 1, 2017, the civic body is firm on its decision to implement it. While many political leaders have come down heavily on the civic body and have been demanding scrapping of the policy, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on Saturday said that implementing the rooftop policy will prevent Kamala Mills fire like incidents. In the aftermath of the blaze that killed 14 and left 54 injured, elected representatives and activists have demanded that the rooftop policy be revoked.
BJP MLA from Andheri, Ameet Satam, had written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding immediate stay on the policy. The BJP MLA from Dahisar, Manisha Choudhari, has also complained to the Minister of State for Urban Development, Ranjit Patil, stating that the BMC is taking demolition action against hotels and eateries without issuing any notice. “They are causing huge losses to these hoteliers. The government must intervene. Its time the state government must review the rooftop policy,” Choudhari said.
Meanwhile Mehta told The Indian Express that the policy will not be scrapped as it will promote tourism and help raise revenue for the city. Besides, the policy will help regulate and prevent setting up of illegal rooftop restaurants and those violating norms. “The rooftop policy clearly mandates that restaurants allowed on rooftops cannot cover the terrace even during the monsoon. Besides, the policy also bans any activity on the rooftop using fire and inflammable items. We are taking action against restaurants that are violating norms. In fact, if restaurants at Kamala Mills had followed the policy, there would not have been such a tragedy,” Mehta said.
Last week, Patil had said: “There are loopholes in the policy that are being taken advantage of. If the majority is of the opinion that the policy needs to be reviewed then we are open to the suggestion.”
After leaving it in cold storage for over three years since it was proposed in 2014, the policy allowing rooftop restaurants in the city was approved by the BMC on November 1, 2017. The policy was the pet project of Yuva Sena (youth wing of the Shiv Sena) Chief Aaditya Thackeray, who had mooted the idea to allow rooftop restaurants and keeping the city open all night.
Since the time it was proposed, the BJP had been debating about the inconvenience they will cause. But the Sena had argued that already many rooftop restaurants were operating illegally and approval to the policy will only help the civic body earn more revenue.
The policy restricts restaurants/ pubs on terraces and rooftops from constructing any makeshift/ temporary shed even during monsoon that also means closing down of these restaurants during the rains. An illegal shed made of bamboo and tarpaulin at the terrace in 1Above resto-bar was one of the reasons that the December 29 fire had spread quickly.