A private consultancy firm had carried out a structural audit of the Mazgaon building and had certified that the condition of the building was “not bad” just 10 months before it collapsed, leaving 61 dead and 32 others injured.
Seven civic officials have already been suspended and inquiries initiated against 11 others, and now questions are being raised on the role of Pentacle Consultants Pvt. Ltd., which was appointed to carry out the audit.
Hindustan Times had earlier reported about how a private company had slotted the four-storeyed structure in the C-2B category, which means the building needs urgent and major repairs, instead of the C1 category, which means that the building is in an extremely dangerous condition.
The report was submitted to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on November 5, 2012.
The report concurred with the observations of a BMC inspection conducted earlier that year, but civic officials now say the firm’s report was ambiguous.
“A structural audit needs to be crystal clear about the nature of damage to the building. It can’t say the building is not bad but also needs urgent repairs,” said a senior civic official, on condition of anonymity.
Officials from Pentacle refuted the allegation that its report was not clear enough.
“The report has to be read in a certain context. We meant that the building was not bad enough to merit demolition,” said an official from the firm, who did not wish to be named.
On their part, civic officials said the company should not have assumed t hat what it meant would have been understood.
In its favour, the report did recommend immediate propping of the structure, something that the BMC now claims it did. However, a key recommendation of the report - to under t ake i mmediate repairs of the building - was ignored, Pentacle officials pointed out.
“While there is little doubt that the repairs were delayed, the fact that the audit report under mined the gravity of the damage to the building is also true,” said another civic official.