Activists on Tuesday demanded stern action against civic officials after an unauthorised building collapsed in Dongri area of south Mumbai, killing at least 13 people and trapping several more in the rubble.
Incidentally, several letters being released by both BMC and MHADA post the collapse show that the two agencies had their sights on Kesarbai building but failed to do much, said activists.
On August 7, 2017, the BMC had written a letter to the Executive Engineer, Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board (MBRRB), a unit of MHADA, demanding appropriate measures as per High Court orders to prevent any loss of life.
However, the BMC letter also stated that it would not be responsible for any mishap that befalls Kesarbai Building.
The building that collapsed on Tuesday was the one behind Kesarbai, the latter having been emptied much earlier due to to its dilapidated condition.
RTI activist Anil Galgali, who had launched a campaign to protect those residing on dangerous hills in the metropolis, demanded the constitution of a task force.
"Time has come for the government to set up a task force comprising officials and experts of BMC, MHADA, MMRDA, police etc to ensure something like this never happens," he said.
RTI activist Shakeel Sheikh, who on July 2 had asked BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi to take immediate steps to demolish 499 dangerous buildings in the city, also condemned civic apathy that led to the tragedy.
"I had sought a list of dilapidated buildings in the city. Astonishingly, the name of Kesarbai building was omitted from this comprehensive list of dangerous buildings prepared by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). It shows the BMC's negligence," Sheikh said.
Activist and Aam Aadmi Party national joint secretary Ruben Mascarenhas said officials responsible for Tuesday's incident should be booked for criminal negligence.
"The builder lobby, backed by politicians, wants old buildings to collapse so that they can get their claws into this prime real estate. That's the reason why the BMC refuses to come up with a practical policy to maintain old buildings whose ownership is disputed. Nobody cares about the loss of lives of Mumbaikars," he lamented.
Meanwhile, local Congress MLA Amin Patel, who was at the site till late night, demanded Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announce a compensation package of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of each of the deceased.
"I have demanded a compensation package of Rs 10 lakh, whereas the CM has agreed on Rs 5 lakh. I am going to meet him tomorrow for speedy disbursal of this amount," he told PTI.
Notably, the state government has not announced any compensation amount as yet, possibly as the ill-fated building was illegal.
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