At least 10 people were killed, 8 got injured, and around 40 others were feared trapped under the debris of a four- storey building that collapsed in Mumbai’s Dongri area on Tuesday morning. It is apprehended that the death toll can rise. PM Narendra Modi expressed deep condolence to the affected families.
Just a fortnight ago, a wall collapsed in suburban Malad on July 2 which claimed 27 lives and 78 others were injured in the incident. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that the BMC was ‘not responsible for the accident, blame the monsoon for this’. The city experiences such tragedies every year during monsoon. However, neither the Maharashtra government nor the BMC takes a lesson from the incidents of building collapse.
Mayor of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Vishwanath Mahadeshwar told Afternoon Voice, “Till 3 pm nine persons were rescued from the debris of Dongri building collapse. Out of these, three were dead and five people are admitted in the hospital. The rescue operation is going on. On August 7, 2017, the BMC had written a letter to MHADA stating that this building is in C-1 (very dangerous) category. Later on, MHADA too issued notices to the residents of the Kesarbai building which collapsed.”
Thus, the blame game between the authorities of the BMC and the MHADA has already begun. Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) chairman Uday Samant said that the four-storey building which collapsed in south Mumbai was supposed to have been demolished in 2012. Uday Samant is the MLA of the Ratnagiri-Sangmeshwar constituency. He said, “The building that is owned by MHADA was to be demolished by a private developer. Strict action will be taken, no one will be spared…the developer and our officials should have seen the work”.
On the other hand, CM Devendra Fadnavis said that affected building was 100 years old, but it was not included in the list of dangerous buildings. The building had been given to the developer for redevelopment. The rescue operation of those stuck under the debris is being carried out on a war-footing basis. An investigation will be carried out into the matter.
The buildings are categorised as C1, C2, and C3. A C1 category means the building is very dangerous and needs to be vacated immediately. The C2 category is further divided into C2A and C2B. In C2A building, the dangerous parts of the building need to be demolished. In C2B, major structural repairs are required. The C3 category needs minor repairs. After the survey, the civic body asks residents living in dangerous buildings to evacuate them and move to safer places.
Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “The BMC is responsible for this mishap. They did not take due precautions. Officials did not evacuate the old building on time. People have to evacuate the building without permission. At the same time, the administration has to manage alternate abode for the residents of the particular building. But they did nothing. It is extreme negligence and a case under Section 302 (murder) should be filed against them. The BMC and state government left people on their fate. They should send police to evacuate the endangered building. Ultimately, they did it after the building collapsed in Dongri.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the BMC said that more than 40 people or 10 to 15 families have been trapped under the debris of the building that collapsed.
The building collapse has been classified as a level-2 disaster by authorities. As the NDRF teams faced difficulties to reach the spot of the building due to narrow lanes, locals formed a human chain to help to clear the debris as search and rescue operations started. Fire brigade, Mumbai Police, and civic officials rushed to the site of the collapse despite being hindered by the narrow constructed lanes. Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force were also deployed. The locals joining in the rescue efforts formed a human chain to help remove the debris brick-by-brick and pick up slabs of concrete to locate those buried. Ambulances were unable to reach the site and had to be parked around 50 metres away. Mumbai Police asked the citizens to stay away from collapse site. Police said that a green corridor has been provided for all emergency services and rescue operations.
Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and South Mumbai MP Arvind Sawant, who was in Delhi at the time of the incident, said, “As soon as I came to know about the incident, I left for Mumbai. I am not in position to say anything about the incident.”
The ruling BJP said that an inquiry will be conducted into the causes for the collapse. It said, “Right now, the main challenge for the government is to conduct the rescue operations success-fully.”
The BMC said, “In an extremely unfortunate incident, the Kesarbai building in Dongri collapsed at 11.40 am to preliminary information, 40 to 50 people are most likely to be trapped in the debris. Two to three teams of the NDRF, the fire brigade, our disaster management team and all senior officials of the MCGM reached the site as soon as they got the information of the accident. The BMC has opened a shelter at Imamwada Municipal Secondary Girls’ School following the building collapse.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA Waris Pathan alleged that the Maharashtra government did not provide safety and security of old buildings in the state any importance and that he had continued to raise apprehensions on the same in the state Assembly.
It is remarkable that the incident of Dongri comes after a massive accident in March when the foot-over bridge (FOB) collapsed outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station in Mumbai claimed the lives of six people and injured over 30 others. Even then the BMC had shifted blames between government officials and civic authorities and had claimed that the structural audit of the FOB was not conducted in a proper manner.