Most of the victims had reportedly gone in to help those stuck underneath a collapsed house in old Delhi when an adjoining structure came down on them
At least nine persons died and 32 others were injured when an old three-storied building collapsed on Tuesday night in central Delhi's Jama Masjid area. The incident took place at Chandni Mahal at around 8 pm. Around 30 people were still feared trapped under the debris when reports last came in.
House of cards: Rescuers look for survivors
Most of those pulled out of the debris were taken to LNJP Hospital where doctors declared three of them brought dead, hospital and police officials said. Both Union minister Kapil Sibal and Mayor Rajni Abbi who came to visit the injured were stopped by angry relatives.
One of the victims. Pics/Subhash Barolia
They all fall down
Police said the building collapsed under the impact of an adjacent under-construction structure. Rescue work was affected as the area is congested and power supply was shut down following the incident. According to locals, rescue teams and equipment like bulldozers and cutters reached late. Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta, said that situation has reached an alarming stage and mere promises won't be enough.
"The government should come out with a special task force. Proper planning should be made and task force should have powers to act tough," he said. When asked if this wasn't MCD's failure he said, "You can't simply blame MCD or Delhi government or anybody else. It's a collective failure. You should take into account the problems administration is facing in executing the redevelopment plans. It's a sensitive area and administration is working under so many pulls and pressures," he said.
MCD will soon launch an inquiry into the incident. Yogender Chandolia, chairman of the civic body's standing committee, said MCD Commissioner K S Mehra has been asked to enquire into the incident and submit a report in Wednesday's standing committee meeting. Chandolia said there were several old and dilapidated buildings in the area. When contacted, city mayor Rajni Abbi said, "We have to find out the causes. The collapse has happened due to the under-construction buildings. We can't say anything about lapses right now. But the matter will be investigated."
'We live in fear'
Traders in old Delhi say that they are living in a state of constant fear. They say that such incidents would keep on happening as the MCD was not allowing them to carry out repair work of shops and residential establishments. "In the name of British-era rules, the MCD does not allow us to repair the shops. MCD should make the laws liberal," said Narender Madan, general secretary, Confederation of All India Traders' Association.
They say more than 20 per cent of the structures in the walled city need repair and are unsafe. "While builders are carrying out construction work of new buildings freely by bribing MCD officials, nearby buildings are becoming more and more unsafe," added Madan. Incidentally, the building collapsed a day ahead of the scheduled visit by chief minister Sheila Dikshit and local MP Kapil Sibal.
'What about us?'
30-year-old Mohd Arshad, an electrician, was working on power connections at the under construction building when disaster struck. His wife, who is illiterate, and two kids, a one-and-a-half-year-old son and a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, now have to find money for their next meal.
According to sources, a couple of days ago workers had removed the entrance structure of the under-construction building, which had led to small bricks and pieces of the structure coming down. Locals had lodged a complaint with MCD yesterday morning. However, no action was taken.