Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam today alleged that BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta violated rules by granting permission for an illegal construction at a gaming cum entertainment centre in Kamala Mills compound and demanded his suspension. Addressing a press conference, Nirupam presented a proposal by Executive Engineer (Building Proposal), City, which is regarding the temporary structures for recreational activity at Smaaash, the gaming arcade. Citing documents, Nirupam said the executive engineer (EE) had stated that the "owner/ developer" of the gaming arcade had already installed racing tracks and other assemblies at ground floor. "The architect has requested to regularise the same by charging penalty," Nirupam said quoting the letter of the EE. Even after accepting that there is no provision to slap penalty, the BMC EE in the same letter requested to charge Rs 466 per square meter for the area of the elevated racing track at Smaaash, he said. Citing documents, Nirupam claimed that approvals of Deputy Chief Engineer, (Building Proposal) City, Chief Engineer (Development Planning) and the Municipal Commissioner were sought. "The proposal was submitted on May 25, 2016, and it received clearance from Mehta within six days. By BMC's own admission, elevated racing tracks do not come under temporary structures, but were still allowed," Nirupam alleged. He said the incident was indicative of "violation of rules" by the city civic body. "The rot in the BMC is at the very top," Nirupam said and demanded Mehta's suspension. A total of 14 people died in a massive fire at a resto pub located atop a building in Kamala Mills compound on December 29 last year. In the wake of the fire tragedy, the BMC had cracked the whip against restaurants and pubs with illegal extensions across the city. The civic body had reportedly tore down extensions at Smaaash in Kamala Mills in Lower Parel. "The person involved in legalising illegal structures should not be involved in the probe of Kamala Mills fire.
He (Mehta) is complicit in the entire process," the Congress leader alleged. When contacted, Mehta said, "I am busy with inquiry. No comments". Nirupam further said the probe into the pub fire tragedy should be carried out either by the CBI or a judicial inquiry be ordered. As per its website, Smaaash, launched in 2012, is one of country's gaming and entertainment centres helmed by creative ideator Shripal Morakhia. Smaaash has a bowling zone, motor racing and bike racing simulators and the go-karting tracks (in Mumbai and Gurgaon). Nirupam also questionned the "delay" in arresting a co-owner of Mojo's Bistro where the blaze started. In a veiled attack on Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who holds Home department, Nirupam said, "the Nagpur connection of all the owners is a major reason behind a lenient view towards them". The co-owner, Yug Pathak, was arrested on Saturday by the Mumbai Police. However, the BJP has dismissed Nirupam's allegations as a bid to "cover up" the "corruption" during the previous UPA government's tenure when mill lands in Mumbai were opened for redevelopment. "The government is conducting a serious investigation into the case (pub fire) and no one will be spared. The Congress leader is making allegations to pressurise the investigating agencies and mislead them," said BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari in a statement.
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