MUMBAI: Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party today slammed the Mumbai civic administration and the state government for the Kamala Mills fire that killed 14 people and injured several others.
They demanded a high-level probe into the tragedy and said strict action should be taken against erring officials.
Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged corrupt practices and functioning of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
"The Opposition rejects the government's stand to hold an inquiry into the incident by the BMC commissioner. The BMC is responsible for the fire and it is inappropriate to announce a probe headed by the BMC commissioner," Vikhe Patil said.
He alleged the BJP-led dispensation in the state was ignoring corruption in the Sena-run BMC to ensure stability of the state government. The state is run by a BJP-Sena alliance government.
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, demanding a probe, said the fire was a result of "clear violation of fire and safety norms".
"In a small area like the Kamala Mills compound, 96 restaurants have come up with zero fire protection. No fire audits have taken place either," he alleged, holding the BMC, the fire brigade and the Maharashtra government answerable.
"All the BMC officials working in that particular ward have to be suspended because fire norms have been violated and that has caused these deaths," Nirupam said.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chavan said that over the last few days, there have been incidents of fire in different parts of the city and innocent people have lost their lives.
He alleged that the civic administration and the state government were just paying lip services and not taking any tough action to curb these irregularities.
Mumbai NCP president Sachin Ahir said the corrupt functioning of the BMC was responsible for the death of innocent people.
He demanded action against guilty officials and maximum compensation to the kin of those dead and injured.
Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, alleging corruption in the BMC, demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the tragedy, especially with the New Year Eve celebrations around the corner.
Quoting a friend who witnessed the conflagration, Congress legislator Nitesh Rane claimed that a hookah parlour caused the blaze and not a short-circuit as speculated. He added that Mojo and another restaurant are only issued food licences, but not for serving hookahs to customers.
Yuva Sena President Aditya U. Thackeray, one of the proponents of improving Mumbai nightlife, said implementation of fire safety norms was a must and BMC would come down hard on violators.