Even before an audit by a private firm last year called for urgent repairs of the Babu Genu market building in Mazgaon that collapsed on Friday, an internal site inspection report by engineers of the civic planning and design department had recommended immediate evacuation of the building owing to its dilapidated structure.
Had the BMC acted on this, 61 lives could have been saved.
The report, a copy of which is with HT, was submitted in July 2012, four months before the structural audit categorised the building as a C2B structure (needing urgent repairs). However, the civic markets department and E ward office passed it around for more than a year, and though directions to order evacuation were issued, no action was taken.
BMC officials were unwilling to comment on the report, stating that an administrative inquiry into the collapse was pending.
The report said the reinforcements in the building had corroded and the concrete cover was nearly absent in most of columns. It specified that the column on the ground floor had buckled owing to the mezzanine floor constructed by a decorator.
“Considering these facts and the prevailing monsoon, it is advisable to immediately vacate the building to avoid any loss of life and property and remove additional load by removing the mezzanine floor,” the report said.
However, even the additional floor had not been demolished. The decorator was arrested after the collapse on Friday.
Later, a detailed structural audit by a private consultant in November last year reiterated the need for structural repair and temporary rehabilitation of tenants.
A month later, the private consultant sent another letter to the BMC, reminding it of the building’s condition. But that was ignored too.
An official from the E ward, who did not wish to be named, said: “We had asked the markets department to evacuate the building since they were using it. Had they asked us to assist them, we surely would have,” said an official from E ward.
A senior civic official said that repairs could not have been carried out till the structure was evacuated. “It is incorrect to say that repairs of the building were delayed. Vacating the structure was a pre-requisite.”