Mumbai building collapse: BMC officials knew building was unsafe, yet allotted homes

Sep 28, 2013, 06:35 IST | Varun Singh and Iram Siddique

Two BMC employees were allocated homes in the building in August; in the same month, BMC officials had visited the building, and had said it needed repairs, but never declared it unsafe officially, until yesterday

The terrible tragedy of yet another building collapse in the city is made worse by the ignorance and apathy of the authorities. Officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) knew that the Bapu Genu market building was not safe to house residents. Despite this, two families were allotted homes in the building.

Mumbai building collapse: The aftermath

Reduced to rubble: The four-storey BMC-owned building situated at Dockyard Road collapsed like a pack of cards at around 5.45 am yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

According to Yashwant Jadhav, the ex-corporator, who is also the husband of the current corporator from the area, senior officers from the market department of the BMC visited the building in August, and found that the building needed urgent repairs.

Happier times: The pictures of the house-warming ceremony at both the Kamble (down) and Patankar residences. Both families had moved into the building in August.

“After following up with them for 14 months, the BMC finally visited the building and said that it was unsafe and needed work done. But they didn’t do anything and just sat, waiting for it to collapse,” said an angry Jadhav. 

Lucky to survive: Pooja, wife of Amol Patankar, is rescued from the building after it collapsed yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

The BMC, after identifying old structures, classifies them into three categories – C1, C2 and C3 – depending on the damages to the building. According to an official release, which the BMC made public only yesterday, this building was under the C2 category. 

The two employees, Mahadev Kamble and Amol Patankar, both from the BMC’s market department, were allotted homes in the building in August. The Kambles stayed on the third floor whereas the Patankar family stayed on the fourth floor of the four-storey building.

According to a colleague, both the families had moved into the building in August. Kamble had shifted with his wife Kavita and daughter Bhagyashree. Amol stayed with his wife Pooja. The colleague added that they had even attended house-warming ceremonies at both the residences. 

According to a relative, when the building collapsed, Pooja hid under the sofa, whereas Amol was in the bathroom. At the time of going to press, Amol had still not been rescued from the rubble. His wife Pooja survived with a hip injury.

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