Tarique Gardens, which collapsed like a pack of cards in Mahad on Monday evening, was constructed only seven years ago. The residents, however, said that structural problems in the building had cropped up soon after they started moving into their new houses.
“It was mere three years since the completion of construction that the building started developing cracks,” said Tauha Chichkar, who used to reside on the fifth floor for the last four years. Chichkar and his family of four managed to escape minutes before the building collapsed. He now blames the poor quality of construction material used by the builder for the loss of 13 lives.
The residents said that whenever they complained to the concerned people regarding the structure, a representative would be sent. “They would apply some cement and then paint the area, claiming that everything is fine,” said Chichkar.
The building was constructed by Farooq Kazi, a resident of Taloja in Navi Mumbai, with permissions granted in 2009. The structure was completed by 2013.
Kazi, consultant Bahubali Dhamne, architect Gaurav Shah, former Mahad Municipal Council chief Dipak Jhisand and Shashikant Dighe, junior construction inspector at the council, have been booked by the Raigad police.
“My cousin had bought a flat in the building and as it was lying vacant, my family decided to stay there. We stayed there for four years and in 2018, as the building was not in a healthy condition, we left,” said Hashim Deshmukh, recollecting that once, he rode a bicycle into a wall of the building by mistake and saw the entire plaster falling off it. The residents further said that owing to the poor construction, they found it difficult to sell the flats. “Everyone in the area knew that the building was not in a good shape… we could not sell our flats. The best we could do is put it on rent,” said Deshmukh.
Bashir Parkar, who lost three of his family members in the collapse, said that one-and-a-half months ago, they had complained to the developers and asked them to undertake necessary renovation work.
“They in turn told us that the ‘flats have been handed over to you, now you have to take care of it’. When we said that we did not pay for such quality of work, we were ignored,” said Parker, who had bought the flat in 2016 for Rs 18.25 lakh.
“One of the attractions in this residential building was the garden and the gym. Many people did not think twice before buying a flat here,” he added.
State Minister for Urban Development Eknath Shinde said that a proper investigation would be carried out to look if there were lapses while the building was being constructed. “We will not spare anyone. Information is being gathered on whether a structural audit of this building was conducted,” he added.