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Not so golden, this Chariot!

Thursday, December 29, 2016
By Raju Vernekar

The emergency exit was blocked by storage, the licences were not in place and the restaurant wasn’t even legally allowed to serve food. It is no wonder that greed and apathy cause massive destruction in the city. Afternoon D&C dicovers how the fire at Hotel Golden Chariot was a disaster waiting to happen!

While property worth lakhs of rupees was gutted in a massive fire that broke out at the Golden Chariot restaurant in 'The Hub Mall' in Goregaon (East) in North Mumbai yesterday, the documents prove that despite warning by the Fire brigade, the hotel administration had not taken any step to avoid violation of fire safety norms.

The fire which broke out in a kitchen of the hotel located on the second floor of the four storey mall (basement plus three floors) at about 12.20pm on Wednesday, was brought under control by the fire brigade which had pressed six fire tenders and four water tankers into service, by evening.

The records prove that the fire brigade had warned the hotel administration time and again. For example the application for trade license by the 'Golden Chariot Hospitality Services Private Limited’ was rejected by the fire brigade on 13 October 2014, for not producing relevant documents and also due to the discrepancies in the documents. The restaurant does not even have a license to serve food. A license to give public performances issued by the ACP, Dindoshi division on 26 March 2014, has also been expired on 31 March 2015. But even then, it is not only serving food, but also alcohol and holds live performances.

In fact a complaint report of the Chief Fire Officer dated 14 November 2014, signed by Station Officer P.A. Sawant had pointed out many irregularities including unauthorised structural changes, closure of fire exits etc and had directed the BMC’s P south ward to take immediate action in the matter.

The report stated that “the P ward shall be asked to urgently visit the premises to verify the license and the area of trade and activities of the 'Golden Chariot Restaurant' and take appropriate action under section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1888, to stop unauthorised utilisation of additional area of the common passage for restaurant activities. To remove the unauthorised construction of loft and its exit door in the exit passage and a steel ladder for the access to the loft and steel frame plywood sheet enclosure box for Air Conditioning unit in the north east side staircase landing on the second floor. Also to immediately remove the refrigerators and other cabinets kept in the north east side staircase landing on second floor.”

The report had also observed that "The common toilet block along with its approach passage and way to emergency exit of north side staircase was blocked for public use by illegally encroaching and utilizing it for restaurant activities by the Golden Chariot Restaurant. Besides the amalgamation of two shop no. 23 and 24 along with its front common passage was done and merged it in the dining area by the Golden Chariot restaurant without taking NOC and sanctioning the plan from the fire brigade department.”

During their inspection of the mall on March 9, 2015, RTI activists Sulaiman Bhimani and Krishnaraj Rao had noted that the fire exist Number 1 was illegally encroached and converted into a storage area. Besides on ground floor, one fire exist was chained from outside. Similarly when this correspondent had inquired about the matter last year, the hotel administration had given evasive reply.

However, now the story does not end here. Because the Big Bazaar, situated in the basement of the Hub Mall, is another dangerous violator. Not only is it carrying on business illegally in the basement (a major MRTP violation), but further compounding the hazards, Big Bazaar has blocked numerous fire escapes with shopping carts, cartons of inflammable goods, and huge piles of garbage, Bhimani said.

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