Police on Sunday arrested the owner and builder of the land adjacent to the four-storey building in North Delhi that collapsed on Saturday morning, leaving 10 persons — including five children — dead. The accused had illegally dug up land near the 50-year-old building which triggered its cave-in, police said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of North Municipal Corporation, Praveen Gupta, on Sunday convened a meeting of Additional Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners of all zones as well as senior engineers of the civic body, and directed them to conduct an extensive survey of old buildings to identify those that pose a threat. He also directed the team to issue eviction notices to those found sensitive for habitation.
The commissioner asked the civic officials to give orders to stop construction immediately if illegal construction is noticed in areas under their jurisdiction.
“Javed, the owner of the plot adjacent to the building which collapsed in Inderlok, was absconding after the incident on Saturday. He was arrested today. An FIR has been filed under Sections 304A (death by negligence) and 337 (endangering life and personal property). We are still investigating the role of the owners of the building which collapsed,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Madhur Verma said.
Verma said, “Javed had demolished an existing structure on the land, after which he began illegally excavating the area. That shook the foundation of the building, leading to the collapse.”
However, members of the Residents’ Welfare Association pinned the blame on residents who undertake “illegal” construction.
“Primarily, it is the fault of residents who illegally build extensions over the weekend to escape the scrutiny of inspectors because the municipal corporations of Delhi remain closed on Saturday and Sunday. Javed was doing exactly that. In fact, when he digging the land, residents of the building that collapsed objected to it. But Javed refused to listen,” Abdul Wahid, president of RWA , Inderlok, said.
“The Municipal Corporation of Delhi looks the other way when people complain about dilapidated structures which might be a threat. We had notified the MCD about 232 high-risk structures in the Civil Lines, SP and Karol Bagh zones. But the MCD pegged the number at 48.
The civic body has not even enforced the statutory annual re-evaluation of buildings and construction structures despite us writing to them repeatedly,” Ashok Bhasin, president of North Delhi Residents’ Welfare Federation, claimed.
(With Sarah Hafeez)