NDRF team arrived late as there was no space for vehicular movement, the personnel had to walk with the equipment, raze parts of chawls to make way; 2 survivors undergoing treatment
Fire Brigade personnel carry out an operation to rescue people from the rubble. Pics/Hanif Patel
The heavy spell of rain triggered a landslide in Vasai on Wednesday morning wherein a huge mass of rocks and soil landed on a room adjacent to a hill in Wagralpada area in Vasai. Two members of a family of four died in the incident while the other two are recuperating in a hospital in Vasai. The two deceased have been identified as Amit Jitendra Singh, 40, and his daughter Roshni, 16. The chief minister has directed Palghar District Information Office to pay Rs 6 lakh compensation for each deceased.
As per locals, the incident took place around 6-6.30 am. A neighbour immediately alerted the fire brigade and local police while others pulled out Vandana Singh, 35, and her son Omkar, 9. While the fire brigade and police from Waliv police station reached the spot promptly, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team, which has been stationed in Palghar in view of the heavy rain, reached the site around 9 am.
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NDRF team had to walk a km
Officers and eye-witnesses said that as the team came in a large truck they could not come close to the site because there was no space available for vehicular movement. The NDRF personnel had to walk for around a kilometre with the rescue equipment amid the rain. “They (NDRF personnel) came walking from the main road as there’s no lane where vehicles can move. I saw a few of them riding pillion on motorcycles while others came on foot,” said Praveen Nalawade, an eye-witness.
Amit Jitendra Singh’s body was found from the debris
Talking to mid-day, NDRF Inspector Arakhita Jena said, “We were informed about the incident by the fire department at 8.20 am when we were camping in Virar. We left immediately and reached at 9 am. By the time we reached, two members of the family were already pulled out by locals while two were still trapped.” “Our dog squad was also there. We tried to conclude the rescue operation at the earliest but both the father and daughter were trapped under the debris which could be removed only with the help of an excavator,” Jena said.
Due to lack of space, officials had to raze parts of six of seven chawl rooms to get the excavator to the spot, as per an eyewitness. Jena added, “We first managed to pull out a man (Amit Singh) and later one minor girl (Roshni). Both of them were handed over to doctors for immediate medical attention.” Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation chief Anilkumar Pawar said, “They were rushed to a nearby hospital but two of them passed away.” “Both the deceased had head injuries with thoracic blunt trauma. Multiple fractures were found on both,” said Medical Officer Almas G Khan.
Singh, who hails from Varanasi, was the sole earning member of the family and used to work as a supervisor in a power generation firm in Mumbai while Roshni was a Std IX student. Talking to mid-day, the deceased’s elder brother Sujit said, “My brother had purchased this property just two-three months ago. We had asked him not to stay here as the area seems to be dangerous, but he continued to live here with his family as he had already made the payment.” He added that Vandana and Omkar are in stable condition.
Officials turn a blind eye: activists
Officials seem to have turned a blind eye to the rising chawl builder mafia in Vasai-Virar and Nalasopara who are encroaching upon government land, alleged activists. They added that the mafia have flattened the hills and built chawls, which also pose a threat to the residents. This comes on a day when a landslide claimed the lives of two in Wagralpada, Rajawali in Vasai East.
Roshni Singh, a Std IX student, also lost life in the incident
Activists alleged that hills were razed and chawls built on the land right under the nose of civic, forest and revenue department officials, but no action has been taken so far. “Illegal mining and encroachment is on the rise in Vasai. There used to be so many hills in Rajawali but they are gone. The chawl builder mafia is ruling the area and officials keep passing the buck,” said Swapnil D’Cunha, president of Vasai city, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Speaking about the landslide incident, local BJP leader Manoj Barot said, “It’s a man-made disaster. Where were the officials when the hills were razed or illegal construction was carried out on government land?” Later in the evening, civic chief Anilkumar Pawar said, “The chawl was constructed on private land. Its survey number is 146 Rajiwali; Taluka Vasai. There are multiple owners of the land.”
When asked if the municipal corporation is going to register an FIR against the land owners, Pawar said, “We have been taking action against illegal constructions even during the rainy season.” Till the time of going to press, no FIR was registered in connection with the landslide incident.