Residents alleged that the builder had accommodated slumdwellers for free in the seven-storey building that collapsed on Thursday evening to show that it was occupied, and hence would not be demolished by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC).
The building in Shil Phata in Thane was unauthorised, locals said, adding that all seven floors, comprising four flats each, were occupied. It was constructed in three-four months.
Shama Khatu, one of the residents of the building, said, “The builder approached us a year ago asking us to stay in the apartments for free. We were shifted to the house till the construction work was finished,” said Khatu, whose 14 family members were trapped in the rubble, including a pregnant sister-in-law.
Dilip Kumar Koriprasad, 38, another resident, said, “The builder was in a hurry to finish work. Every slab [flooring of the next storey] had come up in the past 10-12 days.”
According to construction rules, the builder must wait for a minimum of 30-45 days.
Activist Sharad Patil alleged that the authorities didn’t take action against their complaints.
Santosh Kadam, head of disaster management cell, TMC, said, “The structure was constructed using inferior materials. We will continue the rescue operation throughout the night.”