Moving to fix responsibility for lapses in the civic body that allowed 1Above to function despite its record of repeated violation of norms, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Ajoy Mehta Friday suspended five officers and transferred another. The officers suspended are Madhukar Shelar, Designated Officer of the Building and Factory Department; Dinesh Mahale, Sub Engineer; Dharmaraj Shinde, Junior Engineer; Dr Satish Badgire, Medical Officer of Health; and, S S Shinde, Assistant Divisional Fire Officer.
A senior BMC officer said two of the five did not conduct a proper inspection of 1Above before issuing a licence and the rest failed to act against violations. Municipal Commissioner Mehta said: “There was serious lapse by the five officials. Hence, we have suspended them immediately. It was due to their lapse, their negligence that the mishap occurred. Had they done their duty, acted against the restaurant for flouting norms, this would not have happened.”
Mehta also announced that Assistant Municipal Commissioner Prashant Sapkale had been transferred with immediate effect. “We have acted not only against the lower-rung officials for failing to fulfill their duty but also transferred the AMC for failing to take cognizance of the lapse and acting on it,” he said. Sapkale, on the other hand, said: “We had acted against the restaurant. We served them notices three times this year, razed the illegal extension and even prosecuted them. We did whatever was in our power and according to the rules. What more could we have done?”. He has been transferred from G-South ward (Lower Parel) to K-East Ward (Andheri-Vile Parle) whose AMC Devendra Jain will replace him.
Following directions from the Chief Minister, the civic body has initiated a probe. “Considering that New Year’s eve is just two days away, we are going to act immediately to ensure not a single other life is at risk. We have started inspections and are acting against restaurants. A report on the fire incident will be submitted soon,” Mehta said.