By Philip Varghese. Photographs by Azad Shrivastav
The killer negligence of our government officials struck again! This time it fell upon the innocent victims put up at the 11 Ismail Habib building located in Tandel street. Leaving at least 4 persons were dead and around 40 residents trapped under the debris, the four-storey '11 Ismail Habib' building collapsed on Tuesday in south Mumbai's Dongri area.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Disaster Management Cell said the building collapsed at around 11:40 am. Besides police and fire brigade officials, a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is also on a search and rescue operation at the spot.
Fire brigade, Mumbai Police and civic officials rushed to the site but the constricted lanes made it difficult to access the area, reduced to a mass of rubble, twisted concrete and broken wires.
Scores of residents from the neighbouring building joined in the effort, forming a human chain to help in removing the debris brick by brick and picking up slabs of concrete to locate those buried.
Ambulances could not reach the site and had to be parked around 50 metres away
Congress leader Milind Deora who arrived at the spot where four-storey residential building collapsed in congested Dongri area on Tuesday afternoon said, “This year the CM did not take the review meeting which takes places every year before monsoon for dilapidated buildings. We urge the CM to conduct this meeting. Simply suspending 2-3 officers will not do.”
While Congress legislator Bhai Jagtap alleged that residents had been complaining to MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) to take prompt measures as the building was very old and in a dilapidated state.
BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, who visited the spot, told reporters, “At present, we have saved some people and still the rescue operations are on. Our priorities are on saving lives at present who are still stuck in the debris and also to give best treatment to those who are rescued and being treated at the hospitals.”
Minister of Housing of Maharashtra, Radha Krishna Vikhepatil, said “The situation is very grave. Our efforts are concentrated towards saving maximum lives. This was an illegal building. We are looking into all aspects of the illegality, and who is to b held responsible. The nearby buildings have been vacated.”
Ashwini Joshi, Additional Municipal Commissioner, said, “The BMC had informed MHADA about the building. MHADA then issued a notice in 2017. It’s a cess building. A structural audit was carried out in 2017 and the building was declared as C1 (extremely dangerous).”
A senior officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade said, “Access is a very big challenge for us at this time. The lanes are narrow, so we cannot take any machinery inside. We are manually doing all work, clearing debris, cutting iron girders. Since these are Lal old buildings that were renovated at some point, they have been supported with iron rods around the structure of the building. This is proving rescue challenging, and is very problematic for those stuck in the debris. If I could take a JCB inside, by now all debris would be cleared.”
PM Narendra Modi's statement:
Collapse of a building in Mumbai’s Dongri is anguishing. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I hope the injured recover soon. Maharashtra Government, NDRF and local authorities are working on rescue operations & assisting those in need.
SN Pradhan, DG, National Disaster Response Force:
Three teams of NDRF are engaged in rescue operations. "The pathway to the collapsed building is very narrow and the vehicles with rescue equipment are unable to reach there. The team is carrying equipment on foot," he said.