The incident that rocked Ghaziabad residents at Shalimar Garden area of the city, possibly occurred due to structural failure as a "wider-than-sanctioned" basement was constructed with inferior quality material used for construction, sources said.
Officials of Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) revealed that a building plan was approved, in October 2009, to M/s Kranti Associates for a basement, stilt floor, first floor and second floor. However, GDA officials said the builder "compunded more building area in March, 2011". The building was constructed over an area of 860.63 square metre. "The major flaw was a wider basement prepared by the builder besides the use of inferior quality construction material. The approved basement area was supposed to be only 87 square metre wide. We have come to know that the builder was constructing a 433 square metre basement," GDA's town planner Jyoti Prasad said.
Meanwhile, contractor Kishan Singh and supervisor Devendra Singh have been arrested, police said, adding that the toll reached two by 6pm, while 14 other people were reported injured in the incident till the filing of this report. Police officials said more people are feared trapped inside the debris and personnel from
local police, Air Force base at Hindon, disaster management authority, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Indian Army from Meerut Cantonment have been pressed into service.
"I don't know why it happened, but the entire building came down and we all were trapped inside. There were 30-40 people who were working there at the site," said Urmila Umesh, who has sustained major injuries in the incident. She was rushed to Narendra Mohan Hospital in Ghaziabad.
According to eyewitnesses, six women and four children were present at the site when the incident occurred.
"My daughter Radha has not returned home till now. She too was at the site. We went through this hell for just R160 a day which the builder pays," said Urmila Devi, who came all the way from Bihar to work at the site.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Raghubir Lal said teams have been sent to nab officials of the builder's firm at the earliest. "We will take strictest action against them. We also expect more casualties as more people are trapped inside. Four children and three adults are feared trapped," he added.
Police are conducting raids at Dilshad Garden and Laxmi Nagar in Delhi and at Indirapuram in Ghaziabad to apprehend Kranti Tiwari, Maitreye Tiwari and Kartikey Tiwari and Arvind Sharma, all top officials of Kranti Associates. An FIR has been lodged against them.
Ghaziabad administration also deployed around six bulldozers and three cranes to help clear the debris from the site to evacuate the trapped labourers, apart from a dozen of ambulances form nearby private hospitals. Stoner crushers and cutters were also pressed into service to break the heavy debris.