Days after crash,residents of other VUDA buildings unsure of their future

Nitaben Bhatia,a 40-year-old resident of Deendayalnagar society in Gotri area,was uneasy since the collapse of the two buildings in Atladara on August 28

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara | Published:September 3, 2013 4:09 am

Nitaben Bhatia,a 40-year-old resident of Deendayalnagar society in Gotri area,was uneasy since the collapse of the two buildings in Atladara on August 28. Bhatia,who was worried about meeting the same fate as the families of dilapidated Madhavnagar society,given the rundown conditions of her building,on Sunday collapsed due to stress. She was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Almost a week since the collapse of two buildings,insecurity and stress are playing on the minds of residents living in other structures constructed by VUDA. Nearly 6,500 residents of 450 VUDA buildings are waiting for the authorities to come up with a solution to repair and restore their homes.

Sources say that residents from derelict structures are being evacuated one by one. On Sunday,residents from Keshavnagar society,adjoining Madhavnagar society,were evacuated to conduct a security audit of the structure. When asked if more existing structures would be evaluated to determine how habitable they were and what arrangements were being made to rehabilitate inhabitants who were now on the streets,VUDA chairman N V Patel refused to take any responsibility.

Patel said,“Now that a commission has been formed to probe into the collapse,the commission should decide what should be done to the other buildings and their residents. It is not in my hands to rehabilitate these people or maintain these structures.” On Monday,the Congress held a dharna outside the VUDA office,demanding Patel’s resignation.

Sources in the administration say that VUDA officials have been asked to submit a report to the state government detailing the conditions in which the buildings are. This report will be prepared by VUDA officers under the guidance of the Roads and Buildings department.

On Saturday,Manjula Subramaniam,who is chairing the probe committee constituted to look into the building collapse,had observed that they were unsafe for human occupation.

A C Vyas,Assistant Chief Engineer and Assistant Town Development officer,VUDA,said,“We evacuated residents from Block 16 of Keshavnagar colony as they complained of damage to the structure. We have asked private laboratories to conduct soil testing and structural audits of buildings that have been identified as more unsafe than others.”

A senior official said,“Based on the report that VUDA submits to the government in association with R&B department,residents will be shifted out of buildings that are unsafe. The level of deterioration of these buildings will determine if they will be renovated to make them safer or if alternate accommodations will be provided to the families.”

According to officials,at least five more buildings have been identified as unsafe,but the residents have not been evacuated because the administration is at a complete loss about their rehabilitation. So far,families evacuated from Madhavnagar and Keshavnagar societies have been given shelter in VMC schools.

VMC Commissioner Manish Bharadwaj said,“We have made arrangements for their stay at municipal schools and constructed public toilets in these shelters.”

Meanwhile,the Vadodara city police,facing criticism for not having made even one arrest in the case,said that it was awaiting reports of laboratories to have fool-proof evidence before making any arrests. Commissioner of Police,Vadodara,Satish Sharma,told The Indian Express,“Although it prima facie appears that bad material was used for construction that led to the fall of the building,we are making our inquiries and taking time to make arrests so that the case against those responsible is water-tight and they are not able to secure a bail immediately. I understand the anger of the people,but they must not expect us to make hasty decisions that would not hold in the court without evidence.”

Sharma said that contract K R Makwana had been identified as accountable,but no summons had been sent to him yet. Officers responsible for the collapse would be identified after the interrogation of VUDA officials on Tuesday,Sharma said.

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