SIX people died and two others suffered injuries after a three-storeyed building on R S Nimkar Marg in Kamathipura collapsed on Saturday. The building, named Gulmohar, was over a hundred years old and was undergoing repair work, which was being overseen by the MHADA.
Though the building was listed as a residential building, as per MHADA’S records no one was living in the building. MHADA officials said that there was a restaurant on the ground floor and a few embroidery workshops on the floors above.
Onlookers said that the building completely collapsed in a matter of minutes. “There was a loud crash and the next thing we knew, the building was gone in less than five minutes. The locals and some NGOs in the area rushed to help the people who were trapped inside,” said Moinuddin Siddique, a resident of the area.
A majority of the eight rescued are believed to have been construction workers who were involved in the repair work of the building. Five of those rescued were taken to JJ Hospital. The remaining three were sent to Nair Hospital. Of the five taken to JJ Hospital, 26-year old Kenolin Mullah is the only survivor. Sharful Mullah (28), Angad Chaubey (45), Wasim Mullah Khan (14) and Jabbar Mullah (30) died. Of the three taken to Nair hospital, Mohammad Jakri (50) suffered injuries and a 25-year-old male and a 50-year-old female, whose identities are still unknown, died.
“The people who were in the building when it collapsed include four brothers and their nephew. They had been working at the building for a month and a half and also lived there,” said Arjan Mullah, a relative of the family. Two members of the family, Jabbar Mullah and Sharful Mullah, are now dead. All of them hail from Murshidabad in Kolkata and migrated between the cities to earn for their families back home.
Despite being over a hundred years old, the building, as per MHADA’s records was not declared dilapidated. The repair work of the building was being funded by MLA Amin Patel who has raised questions over the inspection of the building by the MHADA officials. “If an engineer is not able to determine whether a building is dilapidated or not, what kind of an inspection is being carried out? A probe will be carried out and the persons responsible for this will be penalised,” said Patel.
The work order for the repair work of Gulmohar building, which was supposed to continue for the next eight months, was issued on April 28 at a cost of at least Rs 2.73 lakh.
For the safety of the residents of the adjacent building which may have suffered structural changes, the MHADA evacuated them and will be shifting them to transit camps.
The MHADA insisted that the building did not show any cracks or signs of being in a dangerous condition. “We had conducted a visual inspection of the building and had not found the building to be dilapidated. The building had a conventional structure with load bearing walls and wooden beams. There were no signs of the building being dilapidated,” said Sanjay Jadhav, the in-charge executive engineer of MHADA.
The MHADA officials said that the inquiry would look into other causes which could have led to the building collapse. “The construction of a road was going on, in front of the building. We will have to see if the drilling or excavation could have possibly led to the collapse of the building,” said Jadhav.
The BMC officials, however, dismissed the idea and said
that the road work could not have impacted the building in any manner.
“The work of concretisation of the road started from April 19 and the contractor used JCB to excavate the road. Also after April 22, no excavation was carried out.
The MHADA was responsible for the repair work of the building and are simply trying to put the blame on the BMC,” said an official from the E ward, requesting anonymity.