Following the fire at Kamala Mills Compound that swept through two resto-bars, 1Above and Mojo’s Bistro, the latter has shut its operations at its Vashi outlet in Navi Mumbai. Since December 30, Vashi’s Mojo’s Bistro has been closed.
According to documents available with The Indian Express, like its Mumbai counterpart, the Navi Mumbai outlet, too, has allegedly been operating without the requisite licences such as trade licence, or a No Objection Certificate from the fire department. Meanwhile, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) which had moved a Vashi court last year against its order of not sealing the premises of Mojo’s Bistro for want of a trade licence, has now written to its legal department to appeal against the relief granted to the establishment.
“Bistro’s fire NoC was rejected as the town planning department had not given its consent to the owner of the building for commercial use of 30 per cent of the premises,” Additional Municipal Commissioner Ankush Chavan told The Indian Express. “Twice in the past, notices had been issued under the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act against the establishment. The encroachment department has also taken action against the resto-bar and pulled down the tarpaulin sheds,” said Chavan.
Documents reviewed by The Indian Express show that while the establishment procured the FL-III licence in October 2016, the establishment had been operational earlier that year. It applied online for a fire NoC only on June 24, 2017. The application was submitted by M/s Tirupati Hospitality that owns Mojo’s Bistro and it was rejected by NMMC on July 28, 2017.
“The Town planning department had given a view that the hotel/ parlour in the said premises cannot be permitted. Taking this into consideration, the fire department is of the view that your application to run a hotel should be declined. Henceforth, your online application no 3464 dated June 24, 2016 has been declined,” according to the letter issued by the NMMC.
The establishment procured a licence from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Thane in November 2015. The licence was issued for five years.
To provide trade and other licences from the civic body, the owner of Greenscape, where the resto-bar is located, issued an NoC stating that “we have given on Leave and Licensee the aforesaid premises (premises no 701 & 702) to M/s Tirupati Hospitality for their businesses of serving, dining, restaurant and bar. The aforesaid premises comes within the permissible area of ‘support services’ of the Information Technology policy, and M/s Tirupati can use the aforesaid premises for support services of Information Technology policy,” the NoC issued by Greenscape dated June 8, 2016 reads. The owner had leased out it premises in September 2015.
It was Yug Pathak, son of retired IPS officer KK Pathak who had applied for NoC with the Navi Mumbai police. Within six days of the application, on August 8, 2016 , the Navi Mumbai police issued its NoC.
“There is no objection for issuing an FL-III licence under the applicable terms and conditions to the establishment named Tirupati Hospitality of applicant Shri Yug Pathak,” the approval letter said..
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior NMMC official told The Indian Express that they had raised the issue of the Excise department not showing due diligence before issuing FL-III licences. “Not just Mojo’s Bistro but in many cases the licence from Excise department is issued without taking the civic body into consideration. We have brought this to the notice of the state government,” said NMMC official.
According to NMMC, the first notice to Mojo’s Bistro was issued in July 2016 under the MMC Act for carrying out trade without a licence. On February 18, 2017, the civic body issued a 24-hour notice to the establishment for sealing the premises. The establishment challenged it at the Vashi court which granted an order to not seal the premises and provided interim relief. The relief was extended in December last year. The NMMC has now written to its Law department to challenge the relief. “Though after the Kamala Mills fire case, the establishment has shut shop, we have written to our law department to challenge the relief,” said the official.
Other than the fire and licence departments, the encroachment department had fined the hotel twice last year for installing a tarpaulin shed. “On one occasion, it also levied a penalty of Rs 50,000,” said another NMMC official who did not wish to be named.
Hemant Sharma of the local Sahayak NGO that has obtained the documents under RTI, says in the aftermath of the Kamala Mills fire, the collector should cancel its FL-III licence. “Also the NMMC Commissioner must inquire about how Mojo’s Bistro, Vashi, was operational since one-and-half-years without a health licence and fire NOC. This is not possible without the complicity of municipal corporation officials. The political backing to the pub must also be looked into,” Sharma said.