Twenty-eight families in the seven-storey Saptagiri building in Cosmos Hills Complex at Thane (West) were asked to evacuate their homes after four beams supporting the building were allegedly damaged due to construction work in a shop on the ground floor.
Residents have alleged that work going on in resident Sachin Chewale’s shops had weakened the structure. Chewale plans to convert the shops into a hotel.
On Saturday morning, a granite slab in the kitchen of first-floor resident Saroj Pawar, fell. “Once the work started, cracks appeared on the wall and today the kitchen slab fell,” said 60-year-old Pawar who moved in a month ago.
“Four beams at the bottom of the central column, which is the building’s main support, have been chipped off,” said Mohan Machival, who lives on the seventh floor. He is a structural engineer with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. “This is very dangerous. The building can collapse.”
The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) sent a notice to residents on Saturday evening asking all 28 families to vacate the building until restoration work is complete.
Chewale, a civil engineer, said, “I agree my worker made a mistake. I have given it in writing to the TMC that I will conduct all the repairs.”
Residents alleged that they had approached the police and the TMC on May 19 but no action was taken against Chewale. The management committee did nothing either, they alleged.
“We notified the building committee but they didn't take it seriously. We approached the Vartak Nagar police, who visited our building the same day. Civic officials came only on Saturday,” said 45-year-old resident Mukta Shrivastava.
Senior Police Inspector Vijay Jagtap said, “We had filed a non-cognisable offence and had even sent officers to the building. We asked the residents to file a complaint with the municipal corporation.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone V) Ashok Morale said he would find out why no action was taken.
Prasad Sherekar, chairperson of the society’s managing committee, said he got to know of the problem only on Wednesday night. “I immediately asked Chewale to stop the work,” Sherekar said. “The committee didn’t give him any permission to make structural changes.”
Civic officials blamed the society. “After the corporation handed over the building to the society, they [the society] made a lot of changes to the structure without our permission,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, executive engineer (town planning), TMC. “We have served a notice to the shop owner to stop construction, carry out repairs and submit a report.”