The top three floors of a building, which was being demolished for redevelopment, fell on a ground-plus-one structure inside Mahavir Compound in Matunga (East) Sunday evening. At least 11 persons, including children, were trapped when a slab of the adjacent three-storey building and the scaffolding of another fell on the structure they were residing in. Fire brigade officials said all of them were rescued. Apart from minor injuries to two women, no other person was injured in the incident.
Mahavir Compound, which is being redeveloped by Satra Developers, had over six buildings in all with 350 tenants living in them.
While most of the tenants have left the building when the project began in 2013, a few families and shopkeepers continue to stay there due to a dispute with the builder. The structure on which the scaffolding and the slab fell houses four families who worked as sweepers for the tenants for over five decades.
“The labourers were demolishing the adjacent building. We had requested them that they take precautions by at least putting up nets, but the demolition was on in full swing without any safety measure in place. We were in our homes when we heard a loud sound on the roof and there was a lot of dust all around,” said Savita Sauda, a tenant.
She said all of them had a narrow escape as they ran out with their children in time.
Other tenants alleged that the builder had not takes proper clearances to carry out the redevelopment work. “The agreement with the builder states that no demolition can begin before all tenants have vacated the buildings. This was clearly flouted and the lives of the families living inside the compound were put in danger,” said Virendra Thakkar, whose father was present in Madhu Book Shop on the ground floor of the building adjacent to the one being demolished.
Thakkar alleged that there were customers outside the shop who too could have come under the debris. A representative of the building, however, said all approvals had been taken and there was nobody living in the compound.
Thakkar and other tenants alleged that while they had approached the police with complaints against the builder, no action was taken.
Tenants said a deal was struck for redeveloping the area with the Hirji Bhojraj Kachchi Trust in 2013, after which the builder began entering agreements. The demolition work began around 2015-end.