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Just a day after the authorities at the Sant Dynaneshwar Boys’ Hostel of the social welfare department sent a reminder letter to the Public Works Department asking them to conduct a structural audit of the 94-year-old hostel building and let them know if it is fit for accommodation, a roof of the building collapsed due to rains.
It was the roof of the passage between the two rooms on the third floor that collapsed. The boys, who were inside the rooms at the time of incident, escaped unhurt.
The incident took place around 10.45 am at the hostel, which houses 73 students, of which around 25-30 students live on the third floor. According to the students, they were inside the rooms when they suddenly heard a loud noise and rushed out of the rooms to check what happened, only to realize that a part of the roof has collapsed. A few scared students ran out of their rooms immediately.
Hostel rector Rahul Tambade said, “As soon as I came to know, I asked the students to stay put inside their rooms as they were very scared. I wore a helmet and personally went to each room to empty it out and ensure all students were evacuated. So far, the students have not yet returned into their rooms. No one was hurt in the incident.”
The hostel, which is built in 1922 and provides accommodation to SC/ST and students from economically-backward classes, is a three-floor building that has a capacity to house 120 students. It is currently occupied to three-fourth of its capacity. Asked if any safety audit was carried out in the past of the building or its dilapidated status checked, Tambade said, the PWD had been requested to do the same. “The latest letter was sent on August 3, just a day before this incident. Though I have recently taken over, I have realised that even before this letter, the hostel authorities had asked the PWD to conduct a safety audit a few months ago,” he said.
However, PWD executive engineer (building division) Niranjan Telang said that no letters were sent in the past and the first request came on August 3, which also went to the wrong department. “I received the copy on WhatsApp on the day of the incident. We are not shirking any responsibility; we will carry out the audit and repairs. As far as the primary report sent by our team is concerned, though the roof on third floor has collapsed but the building is not unsafe and students can live on the lower two floors,” he said.
However, the social welfare department is taking no chances. Even as the boys will be spending the night in the common hall of the next building, which houses the hostel office, Social Welfare Department Commissioner Piyush Singh said that alternate accommodation is being offered to the boys. “Till the PWD conducts the safety audit and repairs the building, we have decided to offer two accommodation options to the students. We have two new hostels at Yerawada and Pimpri, the boys can choose as per proximity to colleges,” he said.
The students on their part are unhappy to leave the centrally-located hostel and go to far-flung areas. “Why couldn’t the authorities realise that there is a problem when they were carrying out repair works on the roof? It happened a couple of months ago. Our colleges are located here, bus facility is easily available, we don’t want to go to hostels in far-flung areas,” said a student.