More than three years after six persons died when a building in Bhiwandi collapsed, the trial is finally set to begin on August 2.
In July 2013, six persons were killed and 30 others injured when a two-storey building housing a garment factory, Big Garments, collapsed in Kalher village near Bhiwandi.
The incident took place around 1.45 am at the 8,000-sq ft Arihant Complex. The building that collapsed had been constructed in 2003. The weight of the additional third floor combined with heavy rains led to the collapse, rescue officials had then said.
According to police officers, owner of Big Garment factory Prem Punjabi had purchased shop no 5, 6 and 7 on the first floor of the building to manufacture kurtis.
A total of 45 people were in the factory on night shift when the building had collapsed. While 13 workers managed to escape, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescued 26 others.
Subsequently, seven persons, including the builders and developers of Arihant Corporation, Sanjay and Hasmukh Dodhia, along with Punjabi were booked by the Narpoli police on charges of culpable homicide under the Indian Penal Code.
The other accused were identified as architect Ravish Dhuru, and contractors Raees Quereshi, Munshi and Mohammed Badguzar. The investigators had submitted a 700-odd paged chargesheet in the matter on February 22, 2014.
Punjabi, who spent 99 days behind bars, said he had filed more than 50 Right to Information (RTI) applications to get responses from the authorities regarding illegalities at Arihant Complex.
Punjabi claimed that in one response, the MMRDA indicated that the structures had been built without proper permissions. Then, in October last year, a case of cheating and forgery was registered by Punjabi where he claimed to have been duped by the Dodhias and the other four accused.
Earlier this month, the MMRDA had sent a notice to Dodhia to either produce certified copies of permission or demolish the said construction and restore the land to its original condition.
When contacted, Sanjay Dodhia, however, claimed he has not received such a notice yet.
“All the charges against me are bogus. All the structures inside the Arihant Complex are legitimate. We are awaiting the trial to begin,” said Dodhia.
“There is nothing more on the plot where the collapse took place,” he said.
Magistrate K R Patil will hear the matter at the Thane Sessions Court on August 2. Investigating Officer of the building collapse D B Patil was not reachable for a comment.