A day after a five-storey building collapsed in Vishnu Garden, killing two persons and injuring eight more, the probe into the cave-in focused on two aspects: whether the laying of sewer line by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) had weakened its foundation or whether the owner had carried out fresh construction, resulting in the collapse. The owner of the building denied there was any fresh construction.
Meanwhile, the death toll rose to five on Sunday. The government announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the dead who were adults, Rs 1 lakh each to the kin of minor victims, Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured and Rs 10,000 to those with minor injuries.
South corporation commissioner Puneet Kumar Goel suspended three officials — executive engineer A K Meena, assistant engineer A K Mittal and junior engineer of ward, Arvind Kumar — until the inquiry was completed.
The corporation also issued notices to the owners of three adjoining houses. “We have issued notices to the owners to vacate the houses. Many residents have already left. Though these are newly constructed houses and have not suffered any major damage, we need to demolish them too,” an official said.
Civic officials said they were probing if the foundation of the house had weakened during the laying of sewerage line by the DJB. “The building collapsed probably due to the accumulation of water in the foundation because of laying of sewer lines by JCB machines two months ago. I have ordered the deputy commissioner of the zone to submit a report to the commissioner so that strict action can be taken,” South corporation Mayor Subhash Arya said.
The DJB, on the other hand, maintained that work on the sewerage lines in Vishnu Garden area had been completed earlier this year. “It is unfortunate if the corporations are putting the blame on the DJB. As far as we are concerned, no work in the area was carried out recently.
The last time some work was undertaken here was six-eight months ago. This was in situ rehabilitation of sewer lines. There are no pipeline leakages in the area. There is a lot of unauthorised construction there. If the building had collapsed because of our work, it would have happened six months ago,” DJB CEO S S Yadav said.
The building’s owner said there was no new construction after 2006 when it came up. “We did no new construction in all these years. The foundation became weak after a water pipeline burst during the laying of a sewer line. Four to five houses developed cracks when the sewer line was being laid and we tried to lodge a complaint then,” Kuldeep, the owner’s son, said.
Congress councillor Meghraj Chandila and Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay too blamed the DJB for the collapse. Chandila demanded a magisterial inquiry into the incident. “My family represented this area for many years. There are narrow lanes and one should have been careful while digging or repairing sewer lines,” Chandila said.
AAP MLA Jarnail Singh claimed work on sewerage lines was done when the party was not in power.
Meanwhile, all South corporation officials are engaged in rescue efforts along with teams from National Disaster Response Force and Delhi Fire Service.