Rooftop bars not fire proof: BBMP chief health officer M N Lokesah

Bengaluru: Owners of rooftop bars and restaurants who are under the impression that by installing fire safety equipment and following procedures prescribed by the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services they could open their establishments, they could be wrong. 

After the Kamala Mills tragedy in Mumbai, local fire department officials woke up and issued notices to 70 rooftop bars and restaurants across the city, asking them to adhere to the fire safety norms or else face action. Even the BBMP health department started hunting down illegal rooftop bars and pubs without permanent structures. They identified over 125 such outlets and issued closure notices to them with a week's deadline from January first week.

BBMP chief health officer M.N. Lokesah told Deccan Chronicle, "Units cannot start functioning just by installing fire safety norms. According to the Karnataka State Municipal Corporation Act, there is no provision for rooftop bars to function just by erecting temporary structures. Of the 125 units we have slapped notice against, more than half have already closed."

He said that the notices served by the fire department related to installation of fire safety equipment, providing emergency exits and making the place safe, while notices served by the BBMP were based on the KMC Act which bans rooftop outlets with temporary structures.

BBMP health officials said that over 90 percent of rooftop bars and restaurants were operating under temporary structures that are made out of wood, bamboo, plastic sheets, steel and metal. They said all these are illegal and were erected by violating building bylaws. 

The officials said that an owner might have taken the permission to run a restaurant or bar on the second floor of a building, but would have extended the operation to the rooftop by erecting temporary structures. They have to restrict to the floor for which they have been granted permission, officials said.

Mr Lokesh warned that units that do not adhere to BBMP closure notices will be dealt with severely and reminded the owners that the BBMP is empowered to slap hefty fines and register FIRs.On rooftop bars and restaurant owners planning to meet the BBMP, he said, "We have not received any such request."

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