Illegal constructions and alterations at over 355 establishments were razed in the city yesterday as the civic body continued to demolish these structures at hotels and restaurants, after a blaze at an upscale pub claimed 14 lives on December 29. The accused persons in the case, however, remained untraceable, even as the police booked the relatives of two accused for allegedly giving shelter to them. With today’s demolitions, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has so far razed over 600 such structures since the crackdown began, an official of the civic body said. BMC officials inspected 616 establishments and initiated action against 355 hotels, restaurants and pubs for the illegalities today, said Ram Dotonde, media adviser to the BMC commissioner. A release from the BMC said 426 LPG cylinders were also seized from various eateries for violation of norms related to their use and storage or construction of kitchens among other reasons.
“We want to remove every unauthorised structure at the restaurants, pubs, malls, food joints, other eateries and hotels. We are asking the managers and owners of such properties to remove those on their own or else, we will bring such structures down,” Dotonde said. The managers and owners of the establishments failed to prevent the action as the BMC teams were armed with proofs of the illegal constructions, he added. Another civic body official said some owners sought a postponement of the action, citing the New Year celebrations planned beforehand, but the BMC was in no mood to entertain any excuse.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta had earlier instructed all the assistant and deputy municipal commissioners to form teams to inspect restaurants to ensure fire norms compliance and also to make sure that these establishments had their exit points, staircases and open spaces free from any encroachments. Meanwhile, the police today arrested two persons for allegedly giving shelter to the owners of the pub, who were booked following the devastating fire at the Kamala Mills compound, which had claimed 14 lives on Friday. Rakesh Sanghvi and Aditya Sanghvi were subsequently produced in a court, which released them on bail bonds of Rs 25,00O each, a senior police official said.
After the fire tragedy at the pub — 1 Above — the police had lodged cases against its owners, Hitesh Sanghvi and Jigar Sanghvi, another co-owner Abhijeet Mankar and others for various offences, including culpable homicide not amounting to murder. None of the accused has been arrested as yet. Rakesh Sanghvi, the uncle of Hitesh and Jigar, and their cousin Aditya were arrested today under IPC section 216 (harbouring an offender), said Avinash Shingthe, Senior Police Inspector, Byculla police station.