Dockyard Road collapse: A year after building crumbled, survivors fighting BMC apathy

Without the BMC’s official allotment letter for their new homes, residents of the Market department quarters, which came crumbling down last year, can’t procure a gas connection, ration card or other essential utilities

Their lives changed forever, their homes were destroyed nearly a year ago, but residents of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Market department quarters on Dockyard Road, which collapsed last year killing 61 in the tragic incident, are yet to find relief and peace.

The four-storeyed Babu Genu market building in Dockyard Road collapsed on September 27, 2013. It housed the employees of the BMC’s Market department
The four-storeyed Babu Genu market building in Dockyard Road collapsed on September 27, 2013. It housed the employees of the BMC’s Market department

As the incident nears its first anniversary, the authorities have turned a blind eye to the woes of the families of their own employees. On September 27, 2013, the four-storeyed Babu Genu market building, which housed employees of the BMC Market department, came crumbling down. Hundreds were trapped under the rubble; 61 died and several were injured.

While the BMC did eventually rehabilitate the families six families went to the SRA building in Ghatkopar (East) and nine to the MHADA complex in Saat Rasta and provided financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the families of employees and Rs 2 lakh to relatives, the civic body has failed in its subsequent duties.

mid-day spoke to residents at the Saat Rasta complex, and found out that they are yet to get official allotment letters for their new houses. Without the official letter, families are left without a document that acts as a proof of their new address. This means they cannot procure basic essentials like a gas connection, a ration card.

Fending for themselves

Tushar Pawar (32)

Pawar lost his parents, his paternal grandmother and two sisters in the incident. His father used to work with the BMC. Recalling the tragic day, he said, “I had stepped out of the home to go to work and the building collapsed in that time.

Tushar Pawar was promised a job by the BMC
Tushar Pawar was promised a job by the BMC

It’s been a year since the BMC promised me a job, but nothing has materialised. Every time I go there to enquire about my job, they refuse to give me a reason.” Pawar hasn’t got the allotment letter for his 18th floor flat where he lives with his aunt and cousins.

“If need a gas connection, ration card or any address proof, the letter is a must. But the BMC still hasn’t given it to me,” he added. The state government had announced a compensation package of Rs 1 lakh for the affected families, but the promises still remains to be fulfilled.

Simran Kamble (16)

Simran lost her parents, a sister and her cousin. Her father Siddharth used to work for the Market department. She and her elder sister, Shweta (22), are the only two survivors of the Kamble family. Simran’s legs had been badly injured and she was in hospital for two months.

Simran Kamble says she can’t prove she has been allocated the house she lives in, without the BMC’s allotment letter
Simran Kamble says she can’t prove she has been allocated the house she lives in, without the BMC’s allotment letter

Simran said, “We are very helpless. Nobody is left in our family. It’s a very difficult period in life for us.” Shweta has been given a job as a peon in the Market department. However, the family is yet to get its allotment letter.

“A few days ago, some BMC people came to our house and demanded to see proof whether we were the original tenants or have given out the place for rent. How can they ask us this if we haven’t even been given the allotment letter?” questioned Shweta.

Fulfil promises, punish the guilty

Jaya Chavada (40)

Jaya Chavada is the lone survivor in the family, having lost her husband, two daughters and a son in the tragedy. She burst into tears when asked about the incident. Seething with anger, she says, “The people responsible for this should be punished. They killed my young son and daughters. We had been living there for the past 16 years.

Jaya Chavada is the lone survivor. She lost her husband, two daughters and a son (in picture), and wants the people responsible for the collapse to be punished
Jaya Chavada is the lone survivor. She lost her husband, two daughters and a son (in picture), and wants the people responsible for the collapse to be punished

I never thought something like this could happen.” Chavada has been given the job of a peon in the Market department. Venting her ire at all the broken promises of help and compensation, Chavada added, “Where are all those politicians now? None of them, or the officers, has come to check how we are living.”

Ashok Solanki (36)

Ashok Solanki, a conservancy staffer, also used to stay in the same building. In the collapse, he lost his wife Daya and elder daughter Avani. Solanki and his eight-year-old daughter Minal somehow managed to come out alive. “My family was asleep; I was the only one awake.

Solanki lost his wife and elder daughter in the collapse
Solanki lost his wife and elder daughter in the collapse

Within minutes, the whole building came tumbling down. I suffered injuries on my back, but, unfortunately, couldn’t save my wife and daughter,” he recounted the horror of that day. And, now, the BMC’s apathy is causing him further grief.

Without the allotment letter, Solanki doesn’t have any address proof. His eyes are full of anger when he says, “The accused are roaming free after posting bail.”

Chandrashekhar Jadhav (51)

Chandrashekhar Jadhav was miraculously rescued from under the debris 36 hours after the building came crumbling down. His legs were battered in the incident and he had to be admitted to hospital for two months. Even after his discharge, he still has a problem walking and hasn’t been able to report to his Byculla office, where he is employed in the Market department.

Chandrashekhar Jadhav lost his entire family, and still isn’t fit enough to walk. But the BMC is deducting his leaves for absence from work
Chandrashekhar Jadhav lost his entire family, and still isn’t fit enough to walk. But the BMC is deducting his leaves for absence from work

Jadhav, who lost his wife, son, and two daughters, stated, “When the incident had occurred, everybody and his family came forward to show they wanted to help; nobody cares now.

The state government wanted to dole out Rs 1 lakh as compensation. When we went to ask for the amount, the officer there told us no financial help would be granted since we had already got help from the BMC. Why do you promise to help if you’re not interested?”

Calling it a gimmick for publicity, Jadhav relates the BMC’s insensitivity that is compounding his sorrow. Since he hasn’t reported to work for almost a year, owing to his condition, his seniors have refused to consider him as a special case and are deducting every day of his absence from his leaves.

The BMC will allow him to work only when the hospital certifies he is fit enough to do so – which he is not. The authorities had earlier promised to grant him special leave till he is healthy to return to work. However, they only allowed him this during his stint in the hospital.

No sooner had he gotten discharged, than his leaves started getting deducted. Officials told him they had received no orders to grant him further special leaves.

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