Mumbai: BMC pull up contractor for dumping debris on burial ground
Even the dead aren't spared, as irregularity surfaces in building of a new burial ground in city's largest Muslim area
Dr A R Anjaria points to the debris dumped on the burial ground site
Tasked with preparing a Muslim burial ground in Govandi in 2015, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation-appointed contractor M/s EA Khan and Sons dug their own grave with shoddy work. Now, following a series of complaints from residents of Rafi Nagar, who have been unable to lay their loved ones to rest, the civic body has finally decided to take action against them.
The problem for the residents began in 2015. The contractor was supposed to fill the seven acre burial land with murum sand (used in burial grounds to help in fast decomposition of bodies). They allegedly ended up dumping mud and debris instead. They also had to finish their work within a year, but failed at that too.
The contractor was supposed to fill the seven acre burial land with murum sand. They allegedly ended up dumping mud and debris instead.
Resident Abdul Bari said, "The work on this burial ground has been going on for the last three years. It was supposed to be completed in a year. We are demanding nothing but a basic thing. BMC should take action against the contractor."
After locals caught them in the act, they filed a complaint with BMC. Some of them also formed the Sunni Muslim Rafi Nagar Qabrastan Action Committee and filed several complaints to the BMC. Taking notice of the same, BMC has asked the contractor to remove the debris from the site. The contract cost of the work is Rs 9 crore.
Digging up the dead
Speaking to mid-day, Dr AR Anjaria, a member of the action committee, who is also part of the executive committee of Delhi's Jama Masjid said, "The existing qabrastan (burial ground) was constructed years ago, when the population of the area was about 50,000. Now it is at 20 lakh. In the last many years, no new burial ground has been constructed. Earlier, one grave was not dug again before two years, but now, due to the shortage of space we are digging them in four to five months. In such a case, the [buried] body has not disintegrated completely and some other person comes and takes it out to bury another one. The state government had given permission to construct a new burial ground in the area 20 years ago."
Bharat Marathe, the zonal deputy municipal commissioner had also inspected the site
He added, "When I visited the existing site, I found that the contractor has dumped debris and mud instead of the soil or sand that are in the Nariyalwadi and Marine Lines grounds. I had organised a visit of Bharat Marathe, the zonal deputy municipal commissioner and even he was shocked to see the debris. Senior BMC officials have asked for action against contractor, but nothing much happened."
BMC orders action
But the residents' plea hasn't entirely fallen on deaf ears. On February 17, Sunil Dhamane, deputy municipal commissioner of BMC's health department, had ordered action against the contractor for negligence and not working as per the specifications. mid-day has a copy of the minutes of the meeting, which asks the concerned officials from the building maintenance department to take action against the contractor.
Dhamane has also instructed the department to inspect the ongoing work and complete at least a small part of the ground so that residents can use it temporarily. "We have requested authorities to at least start work on 10,000 to 12,000 square meters of the seven acre plot so that people can start burying dead bodies and the current crisis can be solved," said Anjaria.
Speaking to mid-day, Abhay Sabnees, executive engineer of the building maintenance department said, "We have issued a show cause notice to the contractor for the delay and asked them to speed up the work. We will also levy a penalty for the delay. There were several reasons for the postponement, including filling of the land that was marked for the qabrastan."
Regarding the debris and mud, he said, "There has been no dumping of debris and mud on the plot. If any such dumping is found, then we will remove it immediately. There are a few places where debris and stones were filled for creating a recreational facility, but those will be removed. We have asked the contractor to finish work by April. There was some problem due to collector's permission for soil and sand dumping."
The other side
Speaking to mid-day, Asif Chunawala, owner of M/s E A Khan and Sons said, "We have not received any notice from BMC regarding our work. The work has been delayed due to several issues and we have done nothing wrong. After the rain, the plot became muddy and it was very difficult to work for at least a month. Also, when we started work, someone else had already dumped garbage and debris on the plot. It took at least four months to decide who will clear the dumped garbage, because of which work was delayed. Also, the contract period was 18 months, excluding monsoon. So there has been no delay from our side."
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