Locals allege that VVCMC municipal chief chose not to visit an accident site in Virar where three labourers died in a building collapse, as he was busy at an event he had organised
Local residents and traffic personnel rescued the four people trapped in the building collapse
It is being alleged that the municipal commissioner of the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC), was busy at a Shivrajyabhishek Sohala (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Coronation) in Vasai, and chose not to visit an accident site at Virar where three labourers died. Around a dozen labourers from the poverty-stricken Marathwada region were brought to redevelop a building in Virar East recently, which had collapsed trapping four of the workers on Tuesday.
Around 3:26 pm on Tuesday, a wall at the under-construction residential building collapsed, trapping four labourers — Laxmibai Ghavane, 38, Radhabai Navghare, 43, Sahubai Sule, 45, and Nandabai Ghavane.
Municipal Commissioner (centre) Anilkumar Pawar of VVCMC at the Shivrajyabhishek Sohala in Vasai. Pics/Hanif Patel
Sources at the spot told mid-day that after the accident at the site, which is hardly 400-metres away from the head office of Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC), local residents as well as traffic police personnel rushed to rescue those trapped.
“The local residents brought a ladder and began to rescue the labourers. Fire brigade officials arrived after 4:15pm. By the time Fire Brigade officials reached, all the victims were rescued,” said a source.
“No facilities were provided by the municipal corporation to rush the victims to hospital. The labourers were rescued by local residents and traffic police personnel who bundled them into auto rickshaws to a nearby hospital,” the source added. A source at VVCMC head office told mid-day that civic commissioner Anilkumar Pawar was apprised of the accident, “but he chose to attend the Shivrajyabhishek Sohala (Coronation) programme in Vasai West because he was the organiser of the event.”
‘I am busy at an event’
After the accident, when this correspondent called AnilKumar Pawar on Tuesday evening, for the report of the accident, he said, “I am busy at an event. I will call you later.”
Talking to mid-day, BJP leader Manoj Patil said, “There are no rules in Vasai, Virar, Nalasopara. All the rules are flouted right under the nose of the civic body and revenue officials and they are not even bothered.”
“Today three people died and one is struggling for life at a hospital. The officials did not bother to check whether safety measures were taken by the contractor and builder. They did not even visit the accident site. The head office of the municipal corporation is hardly a few metres away, but the commissioner did not think it important to visit the site because the deceased were poor people,” Patil added. “Had any influential people died in such an accident, I am sure the civic chief would have sent ambulances to the site. But nothing like that happened for the poor souls,” Patil added.
A source added that after a female labourer was bundled into an auto rickshaw, her relative was crying, as the woman had stopped responding
Locals furious with civic body
“A lot of illegal construction works are taking place right under the chief’s nose, but the civic officials are not bothered to even remove encroachments next to its head office,” said a local fruit seller.
“It would have taken hardly 3 minutes even if civic officials had walked to the accident spot from their head office. The fire brigade reached the spot after 45 minutes,” said a local vegetable vendor.
“The traffic police kept everything aside and stepped forward to rescue the victims, but the civic officials were too lazy to reach on time. The traffic officials also stopped autorickshaws as there was no ambulance at the site, to rush the victims to hospital,” said a flower seller.
The labourers hail from Nanded and Parbhani districts, said a police officer. “The contractor had brought 12 labourers to the site recently and no safety measures were followed,” said the officer.
Senior Inspector Rajendra Kamble of Virar police station said, “We have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the contractor, builder and architect.”
“The 40-year-old builder, Chirag Doshi, and 33-year-old contractor, Bharat Suresh Patel, have been arrested. They were produced before Vasai court that sent them into police custody for two days. The architect Umesh Kekre is on the run but soon we will nab him,” Kamble added.
Civic chief explains
When asked why he did not visit the site despite being so close, civic chief Pawar said, “I was busy in a meeting till 8pm in our office in Vasai. But our deputy municipal commissioner, disaster management team, medical team, and others were there at the accident site till 11pm. How is it important if I am not there at the accident site?” When asked why no ambulance was provided, Pawar twisted the topic and said, “At 5am (Wednesday), we rushed an injured worker to KEM hospital to admit her. We spoke to KEM doctors. What else is required?” When asked why the fire brigade reached 45-minutes after the accident, Pawar said, “The Fire Brigade team was dispatched to the spot within five minutes after we received a call. There was no delay.” He did not provide the time when its team received the call for rescue operation.