Behrampada collapse: 70 local youths spend 14 hrs clearing debris

The young men from Madni Yuva Welfare Society left only early this morning after ensuring the site was cleared

Members of the Madina group clearing debris at 6.30am from the site of the Behrampada collapse at Bandra East yesterday in which six people died. Photo /Sameer Markande
Members of the Madina group clearing debris at 6.30am from the site of the Behrampada collapse at Bandra East yesterday in which six people died. Photo /Sameer Markande

While neighbours mourned the death of six people, five of them children, in Bandra East’s Nurwala Chawl collapse on Thursday, a group of 20 youths were silently going about clearing debris from the site.

They had started on the job as soon as the structure collapsed around 1.30pm yesterday and were seen at it until early this morning. They had formed a single file from the crash site to the station road passing pieces of debris to each other in sturdy plastic trays to be dumped outside.


The youths from Madni Yuva Welfare Society had started clearing debris from 3.30 pm yesterday. Pic/Laxman Singh

mid-day spotted the youths at 3.30pm yesterday, at 12.30 am today and at 4am when they were taking a break. "We're taking a coffee break and will get back to work after that," one of them told us. At 6.30am the last of the youths was heading home. 

The Madni clan
These helping hands are part of a group called the Madni Yuva Welfare Society, a welfare group comprising local chawl residents – primarily men in their 20s. The group, which was formed nearly a decade ago by Deen Mohammad Qureshi, who is now president, -- had only 15 members at the time. Today, it is a 100 strong group. “We do social work in the neighbourhood and are not connected to any political party," said Saalim Khan (28), an engineer by qualification, who lives in the adjoining structure. "We clean gutters, help people with food and clothing, and those unable to pay their children’s school fees." The group comes together and raises the required amount for a chosen cause by pitching in among the members itself.


The youths from Madni Yuva Welfare Society had started clearing debris from 3.30 pm yesterday. Pic/Laxman Singh

Yesterday, when the structure collapsed, the first thing the group’s alert members did (before the fire brigade and authorities arrived) was to cut off electricity to the buildings so that no one would get electrocuted from the naked wires lying in and around the slum. “We even organised biryani, tea/coffee, and water for all the firemen helping out – the local corporator did nothing,” said another member.

Avoidable tragedy
mid-day visited the spot at 6.30 am, by which time only a handful of the youths were left. “All authorities, including MLAs and corporators, were around only till 6pm yesterday,” said one of the last Madni members, who was finally heading home. “The BMC said yesterday that five more dilapidated structures in the neighbourhood would be demolished soon.” “If the authorities had planned things properly, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Khan. “There is only so much that we can do. If BMC has made construction of structures more than 16 feet illegal, then why are such structures still allowed to stand?”

70
No. of Madni members at the spot

11
No. of firemen who helped clear debris

14
No. of hours the Madni members were removing debris

5
No. of hours BMC and firemen’s rescue operations went on

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