Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

‘Illegal alterations on ground floor led to collapse’

The mishap claimed 61 lives and left 32 injured. The mishap claimed 61 lives and left 32 injured.
Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Posted: April 11, 2014 1:42 am

The final report on the Dockyard Building collapse, which has been submitted to the Municipal Commissioner, has concluded that alterations on the ground floor of the Babu Genu markets building led to its collapse, killing 61 persons and injuring 32.

Following the collapse of the 33-year-old BMC-owned markets building on September 27, the civic body set up two committees for its internal administrative inquiry and technical inquiry.

“We have received the technical committee report. As per its findings, it has been concluded that the building collapsed on account of the illegal alterations carried out by the ground floor occupant for constructing a mezzanine floor and the extra load put on the structure through this,” municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte told Newsline.

Based on the findings of the technical committee report chaired by the Director of Engineering Services and Projects, L S Vhatkar, the administrative inquiry will now recommend action against civic officials it deems responsible. “It is not easy to keep a tab on illegal constructions at various places. We will now have to see on which departments can we fix responsibility. The administrative investigation will take action against responsible civic officers based on the findings of the technical committee report,” Kunte said.

As reported earlier, documents from the BMC have shown that the structure, categorised as ‘C2B’ (in need of structural repairs only), was slated for renovations since 2011 however the file was yet to receive final approval at the time of its collapse. Surviving residents and local corporator Yamini Jadhav (BJP) had complained that this lackadaisical approach to the building’s repairs continued despite repeatedly sounding off the BMC of its poor condition.

Under pressure to quickly affix responsibility for the tragedy, the BMC had suspended 18 civic officials from the markets and estates department a day after collapse though about two months later giving into the demands of the municipal engineering union, reinstated these officers. Ten civic officials were also arrested by the Mumbai Police. The police had also arrested owners of Mama Mia decorators, occupants of a ground floor shop in the building, for carrying out illegal alterations on the main columns and beams of the structure.

Elaborating on the findings of the report, Kunte said, “The report says that the illegal alterations made the building unstable rather than its dilapidated condition. While we were in the process of floating tenders for its repairs, as per our structural engineer’s remarks, its dilapidated condition was not so severe to cause the structure to collapse.”

alison.saldanha@expressindia.com

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