Mumbra building collapse: I work as per the rule book, says Thane municipal commissioner
In the wake of the Mumbra building collapse where 72 people, including 26 children, lost their lives, Thane Municipal Commissioner R A Rajeev says he won't defend himself if action is taken against him. But he is quick to add that he has performed better than his predecessors. SUNDAY MiD DAY spoke to Rajeev at his Thane office
Deepak Chavan, deputy municipal commissioner for Mumbra region, has been suspended. Do you think the action taken against him is justified?
It would be wrong on my part to say that the action isn’t justified. Because if such a tall building comes up and an officer doesn’t know about it, then action is justified. It also shows that there is collusion between officers and builders.
Certain political parties are demanding that even you should be booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. What do you have to say about it?
If I have failed in my work then action should be taken against me. But the records state that I have worked better than many of my predecessors. During my tenure, I have taken action against unauthorised buildings eight times.
Before you initiated action against illegal buildings, did the corporation conduct a survey regarding the same?
We do know how many buildings are illegal.
What’s the number?
(Rajeev chooses not to reply).
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You initiated action against illegal buildings in Thane, but why hasn’t the same action being taken in Mumbra?
In Thane, the number of illegal buildings has drastically gone down, but we can’t say the same about Mumbra and Diva. We do carry demolition drives on a daily basis wherein two to three buildings are demolished. But we must understand that a large number of buildings are coming up. Also, we face a labour scarcity problem and Mumbra is a congested area. There’s no place for our machines to reach and carry out demolitions. Moreover, if you demolish the upper floors then the lower floor residents are affected. Despite these problems we try our best and many builders have even assured us that they won't carry out illegal construction. They have stayed true to their words and illegal construction has stopped in Thane.
Do you face any political pressure while carrying out demolition drives?
Pressure or no pressure, I work as per the rule book.