For seven years, more than 400 residents of Govandi’s Sanjeevani society lived atop an active water pipeline. In 2008, they had seen an alternative supply route being laid a few metres away from their building and believed that the pipeline running under their building had been shut down.
The pipeburst on Monday, which claimed one life and left eight others injured, points to civic neglect and raises questions about a possible nexus between developers and officials from the civic body and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, which allowed a building to be constructed atop an active water pipeline.
Civic data shows that work on laying an alternative supply route was started only five years after the builder got a go-ahead for the construction in 2003. In 2004, residents had submitted written complaints to civic officials about water seeping in from underneath the floor.
Despite laying an alternative pipeline, water continued to flow through the pipeline under the eight-storey building. Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, said: “The reasons why the supply [to the pipeline underneath the building] had not yet been discontinued are being probed. An inquiry will be conducted.”
The callousness does not end here. The building, which was constructed by Garodia Developers under the slum rehabilitation scheme, had not yet received an occupation certificate from the civic building proposals department.
Civic officials blamed the SRA officials for this negligence. “Despite not being given OC, the builder allowed residents to move in. The concerned officials should have taken note,” said Sandhya Nandedkar, assistant commissioner, M-west ward, adding that a structural audit of the building would be conducted.
SRA officials, in turn, blamed the builder. “We have sent a notice of unauthorised occupancy to Garodia Developers. After conducting a site inspection, we will conduct a structural audit to verify the stability of the structure,” said an SRA engineer. “Despite repeated attempts, we have not been able to get in touch with the developer.”
When HT contacted the office of Garodia Developers, an official said they had no knowledge of the incident. “We are neither aware nor directly concerned,” the official said.