The incident of ground plus three structure collapse in Malad’s Malvani area could well have been averted, if the building owner had paid heed to the structural damage, according to the locals in the neighbouring building. The locals claimed that the residents of the building and their neighbours had felt the building was shaking when gusty winds and heavy rainfall lashed the city in the third week of May when Cyclone Tauktae hit Mumbai.
The locals said that the building had undergone some structural repair works post the heavy rainfall due to cyclone in the city but despite this, the ground plus four structures collapsed.
Mohmaad Momin a local from the area said, “During the cyclone when there were gusty winds and heavy rains, we felt that that the building was shaking. Had the building owners paid heed at that time, this incident could have been averted.”
Amirul Shaikh who resides near the building said, “We had already alerted the residents that we felt the building was shaking when there were strong winds and heavy rainfall. Some work was also done but I think it was not enough.”
Joint police commissioner (law and order) Vishwas Nangare Patil who spoke to reporters at the collapse site on Thursday also said the incident could have been averted.
Patil told reporters, “It is a very unfortunate incident, and the building was illegally constructed. The building had suffered structural defects during a cyclone a few days ago. If proper action was taken at that time, this incident could have been avoided. We are taking legal action and going to book the contractor and owner of the building who did the repair work.”
According to civic officials, the building was one of the load-bearing kind of structures mostly found in slums in the city. These structures are not properly built, hence vulnerable to collapse. Often, the owners add more floors to make more without roping in architects or structural engineers to build the same.
The district collector’s office had permitted the citizens in 1976 to construct ground storey houses under a scheme by the state government around four decades ago, according to BMC officials. However, almost all the houses have constructed additional two to four floors illegally.
According to BMC records, the building is located on plot no: 72 on New Collector Compound on Abdul Hamid Road, Malvani.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the BMC knew about illegal structures in the area but did not act on them. Vinod Mishra, a BJP corporator from Malad, said, “We had complained to the BMC about illegal structures in Malvani area in 2019, but no action was taken. If the BMC would have acted on our complaints, this incident would not have taken place.”
BMC officials said they had written to the suburban collector’s office to take action against dangerous building in the area. Bharat Marathe, deputy municipal commissioner of the BMC said, “We have written to the collector’s office several times asking them to take action considering it is under their jurisdiction.”
Malad that falls under P North ward of the BMC is one of the most densely populated wards in the city. Despite this, the ward does not have a dedicated ward officer.
Vinod Mishra the local BJP Corporator said, “Since February 2021, the ward does not have a ward officer. This ward is one of the most densely populated wards and the BMC has given additional charge of this ward to another officer. How can such instances be avoided in that case?”
Meanwhile, according to BMC officials, the process to give a full-time ward officer is ongoing and the file was stuck in the administration due to the second Covid-19 wave that hit the city over two months ago.
News Source: HindustanTimes