Mumbai's Kamala Mills fire: Pub owners see no faults; 1Above blames Mojo's
After 14 patrons perished in a massive fire, a blame game began on Friday between the two Kamala Mills pubs - 1Above and Mojo's Bistro - which have been reduced to a heap of ashes.
Even as authorities claimed that the blaze started in 1Above, where all the casualties were reported, the pub sought to push the blame on an unnamed adjoining premises and Mojo's Bistro, located a floor below, all of whose patrons escaped safely.
1Above blamed Mojo's Bistro for not having an emergency exit, leading to overcrowding of 1Above's escape avenues.
"We believe that all their guests were told to go through our premises as we have an emergency exit," according to a statement from 1Above.
"We've all fire safety regulations, licences, procedures and norms in place. We've been able to help save many lives thanks to our fire safety protocols," the 1Above statement added.
The pub claimed that that it conducts quarterly fire safety and crisis management training and has over 10 fire extinguishers and adequate fire safety signatures at its premises as is required under the rules.
The 1Above management also said their property did not keep any gas cylinders near their rooftop premises and that the gas bank was maintained on the ground floor.
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But eyewitnesses also said the cylinders were kept on the ground floor and were connected to the 1-Above kitchen on the rooftop.
However, in respective statements, both the pubs denied that they had any cylinders on its premises.
"Our staff were able to evacuate all our guests and themselves out to safety with zero injury. There were no cylinders on our premises," Mojo's said in a statement, which also claimed the facility complied with requisite fire safety norms, certificates and procedures.
The staff, it said, was "thoroughly trained" in fire drills due to which all the guests could be evacuated.
The Lower Parel in central Mumbai was a mill area in the past and was developed as commercial hub in the last 15 years. The small area is home to more than a dozen premium restaurants and pubs, apart from housing dozens of corporate offices and many media organisations.
When asked about whether these establishments have any discrepancies in licences, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India president Dilip Datwani said it was not possible for them not to have the licences since this was an upscale market.
"However, the problem is usually with extensions and tinkering being done after procuring the licences, which results in such tragedies," he added.
Being a new CBD (central business district), the Lower Parel and the other mill lands across central Mumbai attract high-spenders who work and socialise there.