BBMP’s Health Department blamed Town Planning section for granting NOCs to restaurants that violated building plans.

Many Bengaluru rooftop restaurants violated building norms say officialsPicture for representation only
news Civic Issues Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 15:42

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has so far issued closure notices to 135 rooftop restaurants and bars in Bengaluru.

And while this spells serious losses for several establishments in Bengaluru, officials with the Palike’s Health Department say that the larger issue, which has been drowned out is that the BBMP’s Town Planning Section had approved plans for several of these 135 restaurants.

Speaking to TNM, Dr Siddappaji, BBMP Health Officer for East Zone says that the Palike had sanctioned plans of many restaurants which did not adhere to the National Building Code.

“There are some rooftop restaurants which have been issued notices due to noise pollution, some for not having trade licences and some for not adhering to National Building Code. So many rooftop restaurants have a kitchen on the roof itself. This should not happen. Besides, the entire interior is decorated using flammable materials. There are no fire exit doors and also only one entry and exit point. The first question is – how did the town planning department approve these plans?” Dr Siddappaji questioned.

A senior official with the BBMP’s Health Department says that a few restaurants and bars in the East Zone had got two sets of plans approved, hence effectively conning the Palike.

“This is again the fault of the Town Planning Department. How did they approve two different plans for the same time? Firstly, the architect in the Town Planning Section has to go through plans and pass it on to the structural engineers. Why did they not question the establishments for submitting these plans? Obviously, there is something wrong. Because of their laxity, it is always other departments which face the brunt,” the senior official added.

Meanwhile, an officer with the BBMP's Health Department in the South Zone said that the discrepancies in the building plans were being probed and that so far, in the South Zone, the rooftop establishments had not submitted any plans but had managed to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the BBMP.

Speaking to TNM, an official with the BBMP South Zone Health Department said that the issue will be taken up with the Bengaluru Mayor. “Any person intending to build a house or a commercial space has to go ahead with construction only after obtaining the NOC from the Town Planning Section. The NOC is given only after building plans are approved. The question is how did a few establishments obtain NOCs without getting the plan approved? The Health Department decided to conduct inspections after the Mumbai fire and only then did the discrepancies come to light,” the officer added.

The BBMP Health Department officials say that they have been cautious ever since the 2010 Carlton Tower fire, which killed nine people and injured 70.

“We have already intimated Joint Commissioner East division to take up the matter with the Commissioner and the Mayor. How can this level of laxity prevail, especially after Carlton Tower fire? Everyone knows how the Town Planning section had allowed construction to crop up without adhering to the norms. This is about the public safety,” Dr Siddappaji added.

TNM tried to contact Bengaluru Mayor but he was unavailable for a comment.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court, on January 11, had directed the East Division Joint Commissioner to hear the cases of two rooftop bars owned by Azure Hospitality and AA Hospitality. The two companies had filed a petition with the HC, asking it to allow the establishments to operate.

"The High Court has issued an order stating that the concerned joint commissioners of the Health Department will hear individual cases to decide whether the establishments can operate or not after hearing the other side of the argument. So far only two petitions have been filed. As and when more people file, the said commissioners will hear cases independently. The hearing for these two cases will not set precedence for the other cases," Dr Siddappaji said.