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Who is responsible for these deaths, corruption?

The building collapse incident occurred at Behrampada as its height exceeded more than 14 feet and violated norms.

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The collapse of five-storey structure in Behrampada area of Bandra East which claimed the lives of six persons have raised questions about safety of residents staying in such buildings. Since Mumbai is facing spacing crunch due to rising population 60 per cent of the city’s residents stay in slums as they are unable to purchase expensive houses. To accommodate more people slums started growing vertically with four to five floors. However, such buildings are prone to collapse due to weak foundation. According to sources, the alleged nexus between slum lords, BMC, politicians and police is responsible for rising number of slums in the city.

“We had to pay lakhs of rupees to slum lords for constructing our slum. Often police too try to harass us as we have to pay hefty bribes to them. Politicians only visit our areas when election is round the corner. They make promises about offering better amenities to us but they fail to deliver them,” said Rashid Ansari a resident of Behrampada.

“Many times the BMC officials visit our place and issue demolition orders. Some buildings were razed thereby causing inconvenience to residents. However, many other illegal buildings are being constructed in the area. Politicians often demand about increasing the height of shanties but it poses risk to the lives of residents,” said Zaki Hussain a business man from Behrampada.

With an eye on the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election Congress had demanded that the civic body must regularise slums as high as 20 feet. Opposition leader in BMC Pravin Chheda had urged the civic body to grant permission for vertical growth of slums.

Even Rais Shaikh, group leader of the Samajwadi Party in the BMC had put forward a proposal for increasing the height of slums to 18 feet. According to him already several structures exist in the city which is more than 18 to 20 feet. Even Gyanmurti Sharma, BJP corporator endorsed the views of Rais Shaikh and said that height of slums must rise to accommodate more people in lesser area. He added that Mumbai can only grow vertically due to space crunch hence height of slums too must be increased.

Meanwhile rescue and rehabilitation operations are in full swing at Behrampada. Fire brigade vehicles and ambulances were rushed to the spot. The building is located at Anant Kanekar Marg, Behrampada, near National School, Bandra East. Two girls are reportedly trapped according to eye-witnesses present at the spot, says a fire officer. Behrampada area of Bandra East is a slum area, with thousands of people residing in sometimes precarious buildings, increasing the risk of collapse.

There were reports in media about the height of some structures in this area which have already reached 25 feet. People residing in these buildings are risking their lives as the structure might collapse anytime. In March, this year, one person was killed and five others were injured, after a double-storey building near Bhumiya Mandir of Kherwadi, Bandra collapsed.

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