Amrit Pal Sachdeva (57), the man behind the death of 70 people, blatantly flouted rules while constructing the seven-storeyed building in Lalita Park. Police investigations have revealed that Sachdeva himself prepared the building materials required to construct the multi-storeyed structure.
“He used his past experience to prepare building materials. Moreover, inferior quality products were used to build the structure,” said a senior police officer.
Hundreds of adulterated cement bags were earlier seized from the building by the anti-hoarding cell.
Police said they have sent teams to collect samples from the collapsed building and conduct raids at the godowns of suppliers from whom Sachdeva bought the cement.
“He has given us the details of the time period when he started constructing and adding floors to the building. We have to corroborate it further. We have to prove his culpability regarding the fall of the building,” said Ashok Chand, deputy commissioner of police (crime).
During his interrogation, Sachdeva told the police that he used to treat the tenants like his own children.
According to police, Sachdeva constructed the basement, ground and first floor in 1997 and added four more floors subsequently in a phased manner. Police said he added the seventh floor to the building in 2005.
Sachdeva told the police that many lives were saved as several tenants had gone to Bihar on the occasion of Chhath Puja. Sachdeva used to charge R500-R600 per person living in the building.
He also told police that he had purchased the land on which the ill-fated building stood, from a woman called Padma for a sum of R30,000 in 1988, police said.
“Construction at the building was taken up for the first time in 1990 and it was turned into residential quarters in 2005. Before being rented out, Sachdeva used the building to store adulterated cement,” said an officer.
Meanwhile, police said it was both because of the water level in the building’s basement and the combined weight of the people occupying it that the structure collapsed.
Sachdeva, who is presently in the custody of the Crime Branch, was arrested on 11 occasions earlier for selling adulterated cement.
“We have not received any fresh complaint of anyone missing in the tragedy. Six bodies are yet to be identified,” said IB Rani, additional deputy commissioner of police (east). Police said they would not seek further custody of Sachdeva on Sunday, when he will be produced in court. Sachdeva is in two-day police remand.