Not only had the Brihanmumbaai Municipal Corporation declared the ill-fated seven-storey building in Vakola that collapsed on Friday as dilapidated and dangerous in 2008, but it has also come to light now that one family had also continued to stay in the building despite the fact that it did not have the mandatory occupation certificate (OC).
Seven people were killed in the collapse on Friday morning.
For people to reside in or use any building in the city, an OC is a mandatory certificate given by the civic body, a certificate that the building's construction was completed as per the approved building plan. “Due to violations in the building's construction, the OC was never given to the building,” a senior civic official told Firstpost.
Also, the building's residents were hauled up for not paying municipal taxes including property tax in the past. “The building was constructed, reportedly by one Shankar Sareen, around 1980, with poor construction material. From the beginning, the residents did not pay the taxes, which is why the civic body auctioned the building in 1995 and it was bought over by a man named Ashok Mastkar,” added the official.
The official further said the building was declared dangerous and dilapidated in 2008 due to the poor construction material used. “But, Saraswati Sreedharan, a resident, challenged the civic body’s notice in the Bombay High Court and continued to stay in the building. Out of 27 families, 26 vacated the building following our notice but Sreedharan refused to vacate,” said the official.
“Sreedharan pleaded in the court that they be allowed to stay in the building at their own risk. In October 2013, the Bombay High court passed an order stating that in the event of any mishap or any untoward incidents, the municipal corporation would not held responsible for the consequences and that the petitioner would have to stay there at their own risk,” said the official.
Sreedharan's sister is among those who perished in the tragedy. Her brother who was at home too was rescued.
On March 7, the BMC issued notices to adjoining buildings asking them to vacate the premises due to the dilapidated condition of the building that collapsed on Friday.
“We asked the residents living in the adjoining buildings to vacate the premises stating that the ill-fated building may collapse at any time which may result in causing huge human loss. Despite the high court order, we issued notices to prevent any future loss but it seems that the residents refused to pay any heed to it,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner.
Another civic official said that the Sreedharan family had also sent a legal notice recently to the civic body seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into allegations that the building was being forcibly evacuated in order to make way for a reconstruction project. “The family claimed in the notice that the civic officials are in connivance with the developer and are forcing them to vacate the building. It demanded an inquiry to probe the role of civic officials concerned with the matter,” added the official.
Updated Date: Mar 15, 2014 09:57:42 IST