A structural audit by Pentacle Consultants (India) Pvt Ltd of the Babu Genu municipal market more than 10 months ago had unequivocally warned the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that the building was structurally weak,requiring immediate evacuation and repairs.
The market building suffered a pancake collapse at 5:45 am Friday. The toll so far is 54 and 33 people have been injured. Rescue operations were on more than 40 hours after the collapse.
The 33-year old building with 28 residential flats in its four upper floors,seven of which were vacant was slotted for renovation and major repairs this year and the BMC had even allocated about Rs 1.25 crore in the budget for 2013-14.
The audit by the BMC at the behest of residents was submitted to the civic body on November 5,2012. It recommended immediate temporary rehabilitation of residents for 12 months. Any delay will affect the structural condition of the building adversely, Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas said,reading out the audit report at the special BMC general body meeting on Saturday.
Additional reinforcement of the building from top to bottom,urgent extensive propping especially on the ground floor,and repairs on the main columns and beams of the structure on a priority basis are required as major cracks have developed on these, the audit report said.
The corporation is yet to affix responsibility for the collapse. For now,the markets and the planning and development departments,responsible for redevelopment and repairs of BMC-owned properties,are blaming each other. A section of officials in the BMC said the civic body should have invoked the urgency clause to float a tender for repair work.
The corporation has offered the family members of the deceased a compensation of Rs 2 lakh. It has also committed to bearing the full cost of treatment of those injured. However,corporators and Mayor Sunil Prabhu have demanded that the compensation be increased to Rs 5 lakh.
Police late Friday night arrested the decorator who had leased out the ground floor of Babu Genu Market in Dockyard Road. The accused,Ashokkumar J Mehta,45,was picked up from his home in Sewri.