At least 15 foreign tourists escaped from a restaurant fire, which brought down two other eateries and two nearby cottages on the night of October 26 in Mahabalipuram. Two restaurants and two cottages were gutted in the fire that broke out in an eatery joint named Masala Café located in the fishing hamlet.
Revenue officials led by Thirukazhukundram tahsildar S Santhi on Friday sealed four eateries amid protest from the local community, that believe that the thatched roof ambience is a big draw and the tourists coming there enjoy it very much.
“We have given 20 plus other restaurants two weeks’ time to close down. But they claimed that foreigners arriving in Mahabalipuram, a tourist spot, prefer places which are in harmony with nature. They also claimed tourists prefer local food under thatched roof than air conditioned restaurants. But, we told them that if any foreign tourist gets hurt in any fire accident, it would affect the entire tourism industry,” the tahsildar told DT Next.
The revenue officials also noted that these restaurants were functioning without the mandatory government licences.
“These are functioning without permits. They have asked for some more time now. When we asked them to close down immediately after the fire accident they assured they would do it themselves. Only after they failed to do so, we sealed four eateries on Friday,” a revenue official said adding that fishing hamlets support these restaurants because people living there are also benefited by the tourists patronising them.