Boy's drowning sparks departmental enquiry

The death of 13-year-old Abhishek Bharadwaj, who died after drowning in a 30-foot pit in Sanpada has brought to light sheer negligence on part of the NMMC on cracking down on unauthorised construction sites. The builders, who started the construction at the accident spot and dug the hole, had not received permission from NMMC to commence the construction.

Deathtrap: The spot where 13-year-old Abhishek drowned

Surprisingly, none of the NMMC departments could notice the illegal construction, which was being carried out over an area of 10,000 sq feet. However, various departments have now started passing the buck to each other.

Despite NMMC sending a notice to the builders of Park Group, Dharmendra Parikh and Jagdish Gauri. and Turbhe police registering a criminal case against the same, NMMC officials’ negligence in monitoring illegal constructions may claim more lives in the future. The town planning department of NMMC, which is supposed to issue commencement certificates for projects, has washed its hands of the issue citing rules and regulations.

Prakash Thakur, assistant director of town planning department of NMMC, said “Although we have received a proposal from the Park Group builders for construction of the building, we have not issued a commencement certificate (CC) for it. We have sent a notice to the builders under Section 52 of MRTP act. The town planning department is supposed to look after technicalities and issuing of permission and not monitoring whether any illegal construction is going on anywhere in the city. It should be done by either by anti encroachment department or a ward officer.”

S Vitavkar, ward officer of Turbhe, said, “We take notice of illegal construction when we see it with our naked eyes. However, the spot, where the accident occurred, was fenced from all sides so we could not notice any construction there.”

Despite repeated attempts, Subhash Gaikar, deputy municipal commissioner (anti- encroachment) of NMMC could not be reached for comment. A number of issues of illegal constructions in the city are still pending with the anti-encroachment department despite green signal from the town planning department, but no action has been taken by this department yet.

NMMC commissioner, Bhaskar Wankhede, has asked for a detailed report on the accident from NMMC departments. “I have asked for a detailed report about the accident from all respective departments. After receiving the report, we will take strong action against the builder if he has violated norms. Also, I will take strict action against officials if their negligence has been responsible for the illegal construction and consequent death of the boy,” he said. 

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