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People back in vacated buildings,Mayor says report linked to polls

The two-volume report by the Commission of Inquiry on the collapse of the Lalita Park building puts the “institutional responsibility for the collapse” on the MCD.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published: March 22, 2012 4:04 am

The two-volume report by the Commission of Inquiry on the collapse of the Lalita Park building puts the “institutional responsibility for the collapse” on the MCD.

More than a year after the incident,Newsline visited the site to corroborate the claims of the Commission. On ground zero,while life goes on as usual,residents claim a total indifference toward and from the MCD.

“MCD officials have never come here,only mediapersons do. Those who died,they were all staying in rented accommodation. The ones who survived don’t live here anymore,” said Neelam,a housewife who lives two houses away from the collapsed building.

According to the report,MCD had said in January,2011,that at least 38 buildings in the vicinity of the collapsed building had been given eviction notices for being “unsafe”. Newsline found all buildings occupied on Wednesday,and the Commission has noted the same. Residents said only four or five buildings were vacated soon after the collapse,“but everyone was back in less than a month”.

While the Commission blamed the MCD for having a “casual,indifferent and negligent” attitude,which it says is “the norm in MCD and requires immediate attention at the highest level”,MCD Mayor Rajni Abbi hit back at the Congress-run Delhi government,claiming the “release of the report was politically-motivated”.

“While the report was ready in December itself,it is to be noted that the Congress government chose to release it in March,just before the MCD elections. As far as the findings of the report are concerned,I agree it was the responsibility of MCD and erring officials should be punished for dereliction of duty,” Abbi told Newsline.

Slamming the working of the MCD,the report states: “The Commission had the first-hand experience of the working of MCD when it visited the site… on 06.01.2011 and 07.01.2011 to ascertain the position of nearby buildings. It was informed by the officers of MCD that 38 buildings in the vicinity had been thoroughly surveyed by them and they found no trace of water in the basement of any of those buildings.”

The report,however,adds that on a visit by the Commission itself,“it was revealed that all the buildings with basements were having water in them”.

Another resident,Indu Sharma,said it would be “foolish” on the part of the MCD to expect them to leave their houses. “No one will leave their own house. I don’t think any of these buildings are weak…. What can one do in the face of a natural disaster — earthquakes cause great damage — no one has control over such things. It had rained a lot that year…. There was an ice cream factory in the basement,which used a certain salt to make ice cream,making the structure weak.”

On the role of the MCD,the report states: “In the last Monsoon,several buildings got affected by water logging. Excepting notification to 38 buildings by MCD,no such remedial measures so far have been given to the affected buildings. Some of the owners took self styled measures such as filling the basement with ‘construction waste’ and sealing the same for good. The long-term effect of such fillings in the form of ‘increased load to the foundation,capillary rise,dampness,etc’ would pose more aggravating situation than before.”

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