From BlackBerry phones to digital cameras, they were given all kinds of technologically advanced equipment to keep a check on illegal construction in the city.
But they did nothing.
Had these equipment — given to the zonal department engineers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi — been used properly, incidents such as the Lalita Park building collapse on Monday could have been avoided.
But these equipment were hardly used by the MCD engineers, as the numbers proved it: In the past one year, the civic agency booked 5,589 illegally built properties in the city.
This is less than 2% of 30 lakh illegal properties in the city. And, one of the chief tasks of the MCD is to crack down on illegal construction.
The BlackBerry phones and the digital cameras were provided to the engineers to ensure they report any illegal and unauthorised construction immediately. More than 250 junior engineers of the MCD were given BlackBerry phones.
"After getting such equipment, rather than using it to stop illegal construction, some of the engineers used them to threaten the property owners, as they also had proof in terms of video clips and photographs," said a senior MCD official requesting anonymity.
According to sources, rather than demolishing the entire illegally built structure, the agency "merely broke a brick or two" as a token demolition.
The MCD officials, however, were quick to make excuses. "We are hardly provided police security to carry out demolition or sealing drives. Many a times, our engineers are beaten up by the mob while taking action," said a senior MCD official.