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Parties demand crackdown on illegal hookah parlours

Mumbai: Leaders cutting across party lines have demanded a crackdown on illegal hookah parlours in the city after a deadly fire in an upscale pub claimed 14 lives last month.

The demand comes after a report of the Mumbai fire department stated that flying embers from an illegal hookah being served at Mojo’s Bistro was the probable cause of the deadly blaze, which claimed 14 lives on 29 December at ‘1 Above’ pub in the Kamala Mills compound here.

Notably, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar had met Police Commissioner Dattatrey Padsalgikar on 27 December and urged to crack the whip on such parlours, while terming them as “dens” of narcotics which are encouraging crime among youngsters.

The mayor said yesterday he will soon convene a joint meeting with Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and the police commissioner and urge them to chalk out a plan to strictly regulate the hookah parlours, which were no less than “fire traps” and “narcotics hubs”.

Congress MLA Nitesh Rane has also launched a campaign from today seeking a ban on hookah parlours in Mumbai.

“Starting hookah free Mumbai campaign all over Mumbai from Tom! Hopeless @MCGM_BMC wont do anything abt it.. To save our Mumbai from the smoke..let’s come together! #KamalaMillsFire (sic),” Rane tweeted yesterday.

Mumbai BJP youth wing leader Mohit Kamboj alleged that some hookah parlours were running in violation of norms.

“I raised the issue of hookah parlours two years back and submitted our demand to the Mumbai police to crack the whip on those involved in the brazen violation of rules. Now not a single hookah parlour in the city is following the stipulated rules and time has come to ban all such outlets,” he said.

He suggested the Mumbai Police should form a separate cell to deal with such outlets, the way it handles the issue of narcotics.

Kamboj claimed court guidelines stipulate that 30 per cent of an eatery can be earmarked as a smoking zone.

But, he alleged, that the eateries were conveniently converting their entire space into hookah bars.

In 2014, the Supreme Court struck down a ban imposed by the BMC on hookah parlours in places such as restaurants and hotels where smoking is otherwise legally permitted.

PTI

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