Kamathipura building collapse: Cessed buildings under the scanner

A day after the 90-year-old building collapsed, officials begin identifying structures that need immediate attention, evacuate families from adjacent dilapidated building

The collapse of a 90-year-old cessed building in Kamathipura’s lane number 14 on Saturday, which claimed six lives, has jolted the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) into action. Members of its repair board surveyed other cessed structures in the area yesterday to identify those that pose immediate threat.

Debris from the mishap site dumped by the BMC at an open plot of a municipal eye hospital in Kamathipura yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Debris from the mishap site dumped by the BMC at an open plot of a municipal eye hospital in Kamathipura yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

“We are identifying buildings that might be dangerous. Once we have identified those, we will provide them with propping and plastering as short-term measures. Repairs will be undertaken through contractors in future,” said an engineer from the board.

A MHADA official said 30 buildings were surveyed in the area on Sunday, all of which need immediate repairs. “We will continue to survey more buildings over the next few days.”

The collapse will also perhaps force MHADA to take a hard look at its annual structural audits, undertaken between March and June. The building was not declared dilapidated in last year’s audit. So, the question of demolishing it never arose. Since there were only demands for repairs from the tenants of the building, MHADA went only for a renovation using the MLA area development fund. Some of those who died in Saturday’s mishap were workers who were undertaking repairs at the building.

Families evacuated
Right after the collapse on Saturday, MHADA officials evacuated 25-30 families from a building adjacent to the mishap site after they found out that the structure had developed cracks. The families will soon be moved to transit camps in Dharavi or Kurla. “They will be given the option to decide which camp they want to go to,” said the engineer.

A MHADA official said the building is so decrepit that it will have to be demolished. “The residents are ready to redevelop it at the same spot. So, a proposal on that will have to be worked out.”

Trucks full of debris
The BMC had engaged 4 earthmovers to remove the debris from the site, where the building collapsed. About 30 workers and 10-15 senior staffers from E-ward (Byculla) stayed at the site till early on Sunday to clear the debris. “We removed 40 trucks of debris. We are thinking of charging MHADA for this service, since we engaged our men and machinery. We are also planning to write to them (MHADA) a formal letter or even have meetings with them to make sure that dilapidated buildings are identified. No more lives should be lost,” said an official from E-ward.

Lucky escape
Najirul Shaikh, whose cousin and site supervisor, Sarful, died in the mishap, said, “I was at the site, too, but I managed to run across the road when the building caved in.”

Najirul Shaikh
Najirul Shaikh

Naseem Azmi, who ran a paan shop near the building, said his nephew, Ashraf, was manning the shop on Saturday. “Had he not gone for a break, he, too, might have died.” Locals said there are many illegal manufacturing units in the area that employ children. One of the victims was a 14-year-old boy, Wasim Bisman Mullakhan, who had reportedly come to meet his uncles at the work site.

Survivor in shock
Kanolin Mulla (26), one of the workers pulled out of the debris who was admitted to JJ Hospital with injuries, is stable, but in shock. He fractured his hand and has other minor injuries. Hospital dean Dr TP Lahane said, “He is being treated at the ward. His responses are slow. He will be discharged when the fracture is treated.”

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