At 11 am on Friday, the 15-feet wide Amlak Mehta Marg, colloquially referred to as Telephone Exchange Galli at Jagruti Nagar in Ghatkopar (West), was more crowded than usual. Amid the police bandobast, scores of local residents stopped by to take a quick look into the barricaded entrance of the under-construction building Prithvii, where an aircraft crash had claimed five lives on Thursday.
Auto-rickshaw drivers were quick to recollect the exact location of the building and ferry passengers there. Workers at furniture store Swastik Traders, located just across the site, claimed they have never seen the lane so busy. “After the crash happened, we closed the shop within 30 minutes. As the crowd built up on the road, we wanted to leave as soon as possible,” said Nitin Nandu, a worker in the store.
After the 12-seater plane crashed on Thursday, residents of Ghatkopar, labourers from neighbouring construction sites and others came to see the crash site for themselves. “We faced a tough time on Thursday to clear the crowd. In fact, the aviation authorities wrote to us complaining that we did not clear the crash site properly. That’s why we have called for additional staff today,” a senior police officer said.
With a 20-seater police van and a four-wheeler parked in front of the Prithvii building, local and school buses found it difficult to navigate down the lane. Shikha Sharma, a resident of Mulund who came to Jagruti Nagar on work, said: “I stopped by to tell my daughter about the incident. But we are not going near the building as it is barricaded.”
By 1 pm, at least three corporators, two local leaders and a BJP MP had visited the crash site and introduced themselves to the investigating team. Residents in nearby buildings stood at windows and balconies throughout. “I witnessed the investigation process yesterday from my window. As I can get a clear view of the site from my window, the crash has become a talking point for me, my friends and relatives,” said Juhi Patel, a resident of a nearby building.
While work at the Prithvii building’s construction site has been suspended till the inquiry is over, the contractors are worried over the delay. “We are assisting the authorities… Residents are supposed to occupy the flats in the building by next year. After the municipal corporation allows us to start work, we will conduct a puja and resume work,” said Pratik Shah, AGM (Sales) of Rohan Lifescapes.