In the aftermath of the Mumbai Kamala Mills fire tragedy early on 29th December 2017, that engulfed 14 lives has shaken the authorities from their eternal sleep. The incredible nexus between the restaurant authorities, the politicians and the civil authorities in turning a blind eye to the illegal and fire hazardous structure has shocked the entire country. Of all the licenses that are primarily required to run a restaurant, fire license or maintaining fire safety standards is one of most important.
NRAI’s Actions Following The Kamala Mills Fire Tragedy
Considering the importance of fire safety standards, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), has put forward a self-regulatory regime to boost the safety at 5,500 outlets that are its members. It has also forwarded a very strict regulation, stating that the restaurants which are not following the safety norms will be very willingly delisted from NRAI and those seeking fresh membership will need to comply with them.
NRAI has made it pretty clear that it must have copies of all statutory licenses for fire safety standards and operations, fire safety officers must be present, proper fire extinguishers must be installed and recharged periodically, fire exits must be clearly and boldly mentioned so that it catches the eyes of the customers, and periodical checks must be conducted.
While the fire norms which needs to be maintained varies from state to state. Most important elements will be common. Since public awareness regarding fire safety is essentially important the association is also in the process of putting together safety protocol.
It’s a wakeup call for all stakeholders including restaurant owners, staff, government functionaries as well as the guests -NRAI President Rahul Singh
Negligence Of Fire Safety Standards
Since the negligence of fire safety standards, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has been blamed by some for not enforcing safety rules. An NGO also demanded actions to be taken against the Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and the Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale. This Foundation stated that they had written to BMC Chief Mehta earlier in September 2015 on how many hotels and restaurants particularly in Andheri East, were using basements for illegal purposes to run various facilities such as restaurants, spas, salons, gymnasium, business centres, shops, discotheques, wedding halls and conference rooms. They had pointed out that “this usage of the basement is clearly prohibited under Regulation 38(9) of the Development Control Regulations.”
To avoid any such unwanted mishap, they have also advised for periodical checks. However, “ our complaints were either ignored or not acted upon by him, which amounts to a total abdication of his duties.” said Almeida of Watchdog Foundation.
The representatives of the foundation mentioned that such disasters are extremely common in Mumbai, where millions live in cramped properties because of high rent. Activists even went on to say that builders and landlords often cut corners on safety to save their costs and have accused Mumbai’s civic authorities of negligence and apathy.
In addition to this, on Sunday evening that is 31st of December 2017, Indian Police arrested the managers of the two restaurants where the huge fire broke out. Both the managers, namely, Kevin Bawa and Lisbon Lopez, in their 30s were arrested for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under various sections of Indian Penal Code.
Following this incident at the Kamala Mills, questions have been raised about the fire safety standards in Delhi’s most high-density restaurant locations like Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village. DLF-operated CyberHub in Gurgaon, stated “We have issued advisories to all restaurant companies at our premises to display their fire NoCs in front of the stores to assure customers since we are a compliant company,” said Pushpa Bector, head of DLF Shopping Malls.
While running a business every businessman tries to reduce their input cost, but it should not happen at the cost of your customers’ lives. Hence, it is important for all restaurants to abide by the fire safety standards from now onwards if you want to operate legally!