The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has found three more officials – two assistant municipal commissioners of G-south ward and a medical officer of health (MOH) – guilty following a probe into the Kamala Mills fire on December 29, 2017, which killed 14 people. All three officials have been served showcause notices. They have to reply to the notices in 15 days. Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta will decide on the quantum of punishment after receiving the replies.
A day after the blaze at two restaurants in the Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel, Mehta had suspended five civic officials, including MOH Satish Badgire. Subsequently, he had submitted a report to the state government and ordered a departmental inquiry into the role of 12 officials, including the suspended five.
The probe was conducted by Additional Municipal Commissioner Vijay Singhal. The first part of the report, submitted in November, had found nine officials guilty. Singhal submitted the second part of the inquiry report, which found the rest three guilty, to the civic chief on Wednesday.
The two ward officers, Prashant Sapkale and Bhagyshree Kaapse, have been found guilty of “poor or no supervision”. “This is serious as supervision of ward-level activities is the prime responsibility of the ward officers,” Mehta’s, in his remarks, has stated in the report.
Badgire was found guilty on various counts: not taking action against unauthorised constructions and the illegal hookah parlour in the two restaurants. In addition, the report found that Badgire did not move to cancel the licences of the two restaurants, even after finding out the extended illegal structure used for the hookah parlour. He did not check whether the conditions stipulated in the fire brigade’s NOC were met. The documents of three inspections which have to be conducted to check the conditions of the NOC were not in proper order, it said.
The report also mentioned that, based on a decision in a meeting on September 12, 2017, to suspend the licences of eating houses where hookah is served, no action was taken nor was it brought to the notice of senior officials. In inspections between August and September 2017, it came to notice that OneAbove and Mojo’s Bistro operated as hookah bars. However, following seizure of material on October 10, 2017, no action to revoke the licences was undertaken. In addition, Badgire gave permission to the eating house when they did not have construction permission.