Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress will move an adjournment motion in the Maharashtra legislature later on Wednesday over the building collapse in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar suburb that has claimed 17 lives. The Maharashtra legislature is in its monsoon session.
NCP leader and leader of the opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde told Mint that the opposition would demand discussion over the issue and seek action against civic officials responsible for covering up the violation of civic laws that had led to the building collapse. “The civic officials and municipal administration are as much responsible for the mishap as the Shiv Sena functionary who ran an illegal nursing home in the building," Munde said.
A residential building named Siddhi Sai in Mumbai’s northern suburb of Ghatkopar collapsed on Tuesday morning. Till Wednesday morning, the accident had resulted in 17 deaths and had injured three persons. The fire brigade personnel, with help from police and locals, have rescued 28 persons who were trapped under the debris.
The survivors and locals have accused Shiv Sena functionary Sunil Sitap of causing the tragedy by illegally running a nursing home on the ground floor of the four-storey building that was built in 1983. The Mumbai police arrested Sitap on Wednesday morning and booked him for culpable homicide.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who holds the urban development portfolio, has ordered an inquiry into the accident and called for a report to be submitted to him within 15 days. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has appointed a civic officials’ committee to carry out the inquiry and submit the report. Fadnavis has vowed “strictest possible action against the culprits".
Building collapse during the months of monsoon is a common occurrence in Mumbai as the metro has a number of structures listed as “hazardous and dangerous to live in" by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). However, the building in question in Ghatkopar was not among these buildings and it collapsed, according to the statements given by survivors to the police, due to the structural changes Sitap had carried out to house his nursing home even though the building was residential. “The residents had objected to the nursing home but Sitap bullied them exploiting his clout as a Shiv Sena functionary. Some civic officials may be hand in glove with him and this tragedy could have been prevented," said a senior civic official, who did not want to be named.
Shiv Sena legislator Anil Parab has called for action against Sitap if he is found responsible. “I do not know who Sitap is in the party but if he is guilty action should be taken against him," Parab said on Tuesday.
The mishap is likely to embarrass the Shiv Sena, which rules the BMC, which is responsible for enforcing civic laws and building permits, at a time when the party is already on the receiving end of all-round criticism over potholes on Mumbai roads. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has the support of Shiv Sena in the state government but which has not supported the Sena at the BMC, is likely to exploit the issue to corner the Sena leadership, which has been relentless in its criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Democratic Alliance government.