Mumbai: Guard crushed to death by fire safety pipes in luxe Ghatkopar building

Updated: Nov 29, 2016, 09:58 IST | Faisal Tandel and Santosh Wagh |

Around 30 high-end cars also damaged by the 1-km-long equipment after clamp loosened and collapsed in the basement; residents say this is not the first accident to occur

Cars crushed under the pipes
Cars crushed under the pipes

A watchman was killed when a set of four fire protection ceiling pipes in the basement of a 28-storey premium under-construction residential complex collapsed on him early Saturday. Around 30 high-end cars, too, were damaged in the incident at the partially occupied complex in Ghatkopar West.

The building, The Address, in Ghatkopar West. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
The building, The Address, in Ghatkopar West. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Sushil Singh (22), supervisor of security guards of the Wadhwa Builders’ The Address, home to many businessmen and diamond traders, who sustained injuries on the right shoulder, said he was in the building’s upper basement around 6.30 am when he heard a loud crash. “My first thought was that a building had collapsed. I ran down and saw that the fire safety pipes had crashed.”

He found Ankush Vitthal Gole (25), a watchman of the building monitoring the basement, trapped under the pipes. “He was screaming in pain. Three other watchmen and I managed to extricate him and sent him to Rajawadi Hospital in a resident’s car.” Singh said while being lifted, the pipes slipped from the rescuers’ grip and landed on his shoulder.

Gole sustained injuries to the head, shoulder and other parts of the body. He was shifted to Sion Hospital when his condition became critical. Sources said the pipes had crushed his face. A senior doctor at Sion Hospital said the watchman suffered internal bleeding and died at around 9.30 pm. Nearly 30 high-end cars parked in the basement were crushed under the pipes.

Complaint filed
Most residents of the complex found out about the accident at around 7.30 pm after a society member found pictures of it being circulated on a social networking group.

Residents have registered a case, through advocate Premlal Krishnan, under sections 336 (endangering the life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 427 (mischief causing damage) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) at Parksite police station against the builder, The Wadhwa Group, and the contractor, Grant Road-based Nagarwala Engineer Pvt Limited, who built the fire safety equipment.

Vilas Jadhav, senior inspector, Parksite police station, said investigation is on.

Residents jittery
Pramod Goyal (53), vice-president of a leading industrial group, who owns a flat in the building, said residents are now worried that the complex does not meet safety standards. “Last week, a lift crashed from the 11th floor, injuring the repairmen inside. Around 45 days ago, too, the lift crashed from the 26th floor. We filed a complaint over last week’s incident just this Friday. Residents are now concerned about their safety. We pay maintenance charge of Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 a month and these are the facilities we get.”

Another resident said it could have been a bigger catastrophe had it been a weekday.

Real estate firm The Wadhwa Group began constructing the residential complex with a plan for 10 wings, in 2009. The occupation certificate (OC) for seven wings, with over 1,000 2-4BHK flats, was granted in November last year; one wing’s clearance is still pending. Two more wings are under construction.

'Pull up every agency'
Krishnan, also a member of an ad hoc committee formed by society members, said the pipes’ clamp couldn’t bear the load. “It was a fire safety pipeline, but there was no water in it. Imagine if there was the additional weight of water, the pipes would have crashed much earlier. It’s the contractor’s fault.”

He questioned how the building was granted an OC if it failed to meet safety norms. “How can they issue an OC to a building whose parts begin to fall in just over a year? The BMC and the fire brigade should also be held responsible for letting substandard work pass. The building has more such pipes.”

The set of fire safety pipes, six inches thick and over 1 km long, were in basement level 2. The building has three basement levels and two podium parking lots. The pipes were held up by a series of two sets of clamps.

Builder speak

The Wadhwa Group spokesperson
‘Prima facie, it seems that the anchor bolts malfunctioned and the support snapped at one end. The domino effect caused the pipes to come down. One of our guards died later in the day, and a few cars parked under the pipes got damaged. The access to the area is clear, and the restoration of pipes has been taken up on a war-footing. We have taken cognisance of this maintenance issue with our service contractor.’

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