MORE than two days after two poclain machines atop an eight-storey building, Crystal Business Park in Chandivali, collapsed along with a portion of the building on at least nine people, a site inspection report prepared by the Development Plan department of the civic body has pointed out that the contractor did not carry out the demolition in a scientific manner.
Meanwhile, senior officers said that the Sakinaka police are in the process of filing an FIR against three members of the agency and are likely to charge them with negligence under the Indian Penal Code and other relevant sections of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act.
An official who was part of the team that conducted the site visit over the past two days said that the builder had put up a proposal of constructing a building in the Information Technology zone first in 2006, after which they changed their plan to a commercial complex in 2009 and the construction started in 2010.
“They amended their plans and constructed the building. However, they received a poor response from the market, after which they approached the SRA last year and decided to convert it into a residential complex under a section which would give them additional FSI,” said the official.
The civic official added that the building was reportedly a 16-storey structure and had permission for 14 storeys, including ground floor plus two podium and 12 floors even though officials from the Crystal Group claimed that they had permission to construct till the 18th floor.
Holding the builder and the contractor equally accountable, the official said that while the contractor should have used a more scientific manner of demolition, the builder should have informed the BMC before applying to the SRA for additional FSI.
“The building didn’t even have an occupation certificate. They should have informed the building proposal department that they were not continuing with their proposal of constructing a commercial building.”
“They should have also informed the BMC before taking up the demolition of the structure,” he said.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said he had received the report but was yet to take any decision in the matter. “Our priority is to rescue people trapped under the debris while also ensuring the safety of the rescue team. This is why they have been advised to move forward with the advice of the structural engineer,” he said.
Senior civic officials, however, said that the BMC was unlikely to carry out an inspection in the matter since the civic body only deals with buildings which are occupied.
“This building was commercial and had never been occupied. Thus any illegal activity would call for criminal action which is being carried out by the police. We will, however, share with the police the details of the site inspection report and the fire brigade’s report after the rescue operation is over,” said the official.
Officials from the Crystal Group said that a work order was issued to the contractors, Bhagwan Singh and Hamid Chawdhary, hired in October 2016 to demolish the entire structure.
As per the contract given by Crystal Business Park, the demolition was to supposed to be completed over four months. However, work began at the end of January this year. According to the hired workers, initially the demolition was done floor-by-floor manually using hammer and small tools.
Under pressure to finish the demolition on time, the contractor first procured one poclain machine, and later added three more. Their total weight, amounting to over 50 tonnes, was placed on top of the under-constructed building structure.
The officials of the Crystal Group Developers they are also planning to take action against the contractor.
“The work was already delayed. In our contract, we had asked the contractor to scientifically demolish the structure, follow labour laws and bear responsibility of any accident. We will file a criminal complaint against the contractor for the loss of life caused by his actions as well as for the irreparable damage he has done to our reputation,” an official from Crystal Business Park said.
Continuing to deny any involvement in the matter, officials from the Slum Rehabilitation Authority said they had only issued a letter of intent to the builder.
“The builder had approached us stating that they wanted to apply under a certain section of the Slum Rehabilitation Act under which the builder is entitled to additional FSI of 2.5 in return for transit tenements.”
“However, at this point we have only issued a letter of intent and have not granted approval for any demolition or construction. We, currently, have no role to play in this issue,” said the official.
The two contractors, Singh and Chaudhary, couldn’t be contacted despite several attempts. The police said they have been untraceable since the collapse on August 26.