Tragedy struck four families residing in a chawl at Dyaneshwarnagar in Thane (West) as a boundary wall collapsed on their houses early on Wednesday. Eight people — six of them women — died and seven were injured.
Forty-seven families reside at Bholenath Veer Savarkar Chawl, located between a nullah and the boundary wall of an under-construction building belonging to the Dosti Group.
Residents blamed the builder. “There was an eight-foot-high wall and the builder raised its height a year ago, exceeding the permissible limit. To add to it, the builder dumped debris behind the wall recently,” said a resident.
Raju Vohra, of Dosti, said: “We did not increase the wall’s height. We don’t know what happened behind the wall. The matter is being investigated.”
Those who died in the collapse were Shivnath Giri (45), Indravati Singh (42), Sunaiya Bhagat (16), Pinky Bhagat (15), Sangeeta Bhagat (26), Savita Bhagat (24), Vishwanath Thakur (45) and Meera Thakur (40).
“We were sleeping when the wall collapsed. We started screaming for help and were rescued by our neighbours,” said an injured Rohit Bhagat (10). Rohit lost two sisters and two aunts in the collapse. His father Doodhnath (40) and mother Seema (35) were injured.
Sunny Thakur (8) lost both his parents. His father, Vishwanath, was a mill supervisor. “Sunny doesn’t know yet that his parents are dead. His sister, Ansukumari (12), was with us in Mulund as she was unwell,” said his uncle Bhoginder (45).
The district collector announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for the families of each of the deceased. The civic body will take care of the medical costs of the injured.
“An inquiry has been ordered; the report should come in a week. All the chawl residents have been shifted to transit accommodation. The remaining portion of the wall, which posed a danger, has been razed. We have filed a complaint against the Dosti Group,” said Thane Municipal Commissioner R.A. Rajeev.
The Vartaknagar police registered a case of culpable homicide and negligence endangering the life of others against the builder, site engineer and supervisor.
Meanwhile, a senior citizen, Ratilal Gada (65), died after an iron rod from an under-construction building fell on his head at Mulund. Police blamed the strong winds for the rod falling off the building. Witnesses said Gada died instantly. Police have booked the site supervisor.