Mumbai Fire Hazard: BMC's detailed report reveals how Kamala Mills became a fire-trap in Dec 2017

On December 29, 2017, a tragic fire broke out in two restaurants - 1 Above and Mojo’s Bistro, at Kamala Mills Compound situated in the Lower Parel area of Mumbai. The dreadful fire resulted in the death of 14 lives of which 11 were female and three were male. Nearly 50 people were also injured in the incident.

A technical investigation report of the Mumbai Fire Brigade had found that the fire started at Mojo’s Bistro due to hookah being served at the restaurant. The report also pointed out the lack of emergency exits and working fire safety equipment on the premises. Also, it was revealed that a few BMC and state officials were negligent in granting permissions.

Now, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has submitted a detailed report of the incident. The report reveals that there was a blatant violation of fire-fighting norms, closure of fire escape routes and violation of Floor Space Index (FSI) - among a few reasons for the tragedy.

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The report says that the total FSI violation works out to 22658.675 sqm i.e, 23.84% of the Built-up Area (BUA), out of which 11362.63 sqm is concerning the fire aspect. This violation is in the form of encroachment and merging of fire passages, fire escape balconies, fire ducts, common lobbies etc. The remaining 11296.04 sqm BUA violation is due to the encroachment, misuse and merging of electrical room, AHU room, etc.

It was also observed that unauthorized erection of full height cabins and lightweight partitions were carried out. Also, changes were observed in the positions of toilets, pantry and duct area being enclosed and used as storeroom. The percentage of violation with respect to fire norms was 11.93% and other violations were 11.86%.

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The violation was also observed on the part of the user. According to the IT / ITES Policy, 80% of the BUA has to be occupied by IT/ITES activities. However, the developer here has made a provision of 82.80% of the approved BUA for IT/ITES activities out of which 54.03% of BUA is occupied by these activities. Also, the Non-IT activities including commercial activities and support services observed were 15.28% of the approved BUA which is below 20% of the maximum limit for commercial and support services.

The latest report recommended the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) to inspect the premises and take suitable action as per the Maharashtra Fire Prevention & Life Safety Measures Act 2006. The BMC's report also proposed that the CFO shall revoke the No Objection Certificate (NOC) and unless the building is restored as per the approved plan and becomes fire safety compliant, no NOC shall be issued.

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