A month before the seven-storey building collapsed in Mumbra,a demolition team from the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and the police had visited Lucky Compound with heavy equipment and merely scratched the facade of the illegal building beside it.
The elaborate sham served as a threat to builders Jameel Qureshi and Salim Sheikh arrested after the collapse following which they struck a deal with authorities for turning a blind eye to the illegal structures,Thane police sources said Tuesday.
According to officers,the building that collapsed on Thursday was still under construction. The team that visited the site had only dented the building beside it; this building was demolished by authorities following the collapse,they said.
The JCBs (heavy equipment) only scratched the facade of the second building and returned. This was to convey a message to the duo,who promptly got in touch and bribes were exchanged. The civic officials concerned five so far were paid each time the duo added a floor to the second building, said an officer.
The building collapse has blown the lid off a highly organised racket of thriving illegal constructions. Police are unravelling the threads of the racket,which comprises builders,civic officials and middlemen.
Meanwhile,the Thane police Crime Branch arrested Subhash Rawal (52),executive engineer,encroachment,Mumbra ward,and Ramesh Inamdar (46),deputy engineer,encroachment,Mumbra,Tuesday. Thane police commissioner K P Raghuvanshi said the two were beneficiaries.
Arrested businessman Sayeed Patel and journalist Rafiq Kamdar allegedly acted as mediators in the racket.