The Thane police investigating the Mumbra building collapse that claimed 74 lives and left 62 injured said that they had seized documents and cash to establish that public servants were bribed to allow the seven-storeyed structure to come up in months.
Formally announcing the arrest of seven persons including two senior civic officials, a corporator and a policeman, on Sunday, the Thane police commissioner KP Raghuvanshi said: "The interrogation of the developers [Abdul Siddique and Jamil Shaikh, who were arrested earlier] gave us leads on the involvement of public servants who were bribed to permit the illegal construction to come up. We have documents to establish this."
"We seized Rs. 5 lakh cash from deputy municipal commissioner Deepak Sharadrao Chavan's home, along with incriminating documents," Raghuvanshi said and hinted at more arrests. "We will initiate action against people irrespective of whether they are public servants or not."
The police said details on how much money has exchanged hands and between whom is being investigated, but said "lakhs of rupees" were involved.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau has now been roped in to assist in the probe, Raghuvanshi said.
Over the past two decades, as property prices skyrocketed in Mumbai, the surrounding areas have witnessed huge development. The high demand for houses, availability of land and complex construction rules have facilitated such a nexus, which has been unchecked thanks to the lack of a real estate regulator. The result: thousands of illegal buildings constructed with inferior quality materials with no adherence to building and safety rules.
The accused have been remanded in police custody for 14 days.