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Mumbai: Glitchy software delays restaurant licences, over 312 applications pending

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While civic chief has asked chief fire officer to submit report on latter’s department’s inaction on 312 pending licence applications, fire department claims the software hardly works because of glitches

A Glitching software put in place to streamline and fast-track the process of approving licences for restaurants has become the cause of a small tiff of sorts between the BMC and the fire brigade. While civic chief Ajoy Mehta has asked has asked chief fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale to give a detailed account of the delay in approving 312 pending applications, the fire brigade claims the software hardly works.

Mehta said, “The fire safety NOCs are issued after verifying several installations and design of the project. I wanted to understand what stages the NOCs are stuck, so that the software can be upgraded accordingly and there is minimum human intervention. We are also considering on incorporating recommendations made by restaurant associations so there are fewer delays and faster approvals.”

Ajoy Mehta, BMC chief
Ajoy Mehta, BMC chief

Software hardly works
Meanwhile, the fire brigade claims that the software put in place to fast track and streamline the process of getting licences after the Kamala Mills fire incident hardly works because of its technical glitches.

On April 2, in the front-page report, ‘BMC to revamp fire safety rules,’ mid-day had reported about the civic body’s plans to come up with a new standard operating procedure and carry out a comprehensive revamp of the existing ones following the Kamala blaze. BMC said they were in the process of building a software to ease the process, which would be kept in public domain.

While it has been a month and a half since the software was started, a review of it has shown that NOCs, supposed to be issued under section 394 of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, to get a health license for operating restaurants are pending in about 312 cases. This is holding up the new eateries, as without NOCs from the fire brigade, the health department cannot issue the licence to run it.

Glitches causing delays
But the fire brigade says it wants to ensure it doesn’t hand out licenses without thorough verification. A senior fire brigade officer said, “We have been facing certain problems since the software was developed, as the plans have to be checked and in some cases, a few documents vital for verification are not getting uploaded. We’re also noticing technical glitches and thus, have not completely approved the applications as we want to be entirely sure of the NOCs issued by us.”

Deputy chief fire officer Hemant Parab said, “The BMC chief has asked us to go over the details, review the new software and improve it in case of any problems noticed during the approval stages.”

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