Unsafe buildings in the Kamala Mills complex to be demolished
Posted on The National | By Samanth Subramanian
A deadly fire in a rooftop restaurant in Mumbai, which broke out early on Friday morning and killed 14 people, has drawn fresh attention to the failures of planning in one of the city’s busiest upmarket commercial districts.
Lower Parel, lying roughly a dozen kilometers north of Mumbai’s slender peninsular tip, was once home to numerous cotton mills — large factories that had, in the 19th century, exported so much cloth to the UK and other parts of the world that the city came to be known as the Manchester of the East.
After the Second World War, however, the mills started to decline. Textile manufacturing lost its sheen, and “mill owners began to siphon funds from their textile mills to other, more profitable activities,” the historian Shekhar Krishnan wrote in 2000, about Lower Parel’s transformation. The mills were hit by labour strikes, Mr Krishnan added, and the owners showed no interest in modernising their facilities.
In 1991, the government began to relax the rules that governed the redevelopment of these properties. Mill owners could now sell their land; developers were permitted to build condominiums, and office towers, or to install malls, restaurants and boutiques within the shells of the old mill buildings.