Six people were killed and two others were injured when the century-old Gulmohar building came crashing down at Kamathipura in south Mumbai on Saturday. But just hours after the collapse, the state housing agency that had failed to mark the structure as dilapidated sought to shift the blame on the civic body.
The Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) said the ongoing road repair work on Kamathipura’s RS Nimkar Road caused the collapse.
The building has been undergoing repairs for nearly month, but had not been declared dilapidated by MHADA, whose officials now claim the vibrations from the continuous hammering during road repair work caused the crash. The agency said it will inspect old buildings along the road to minimise the risk.
Officials at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation hit back at MHADA’s charge and said the MHADA was repairing the building and the civic body was not involved. Those killed and injured are said to be construction workers carrying out the repairs.
The building was a conventional load-bearing structure of wooden beams and columns and some repairs costing about Rs 3 to Rs 5 lakh was carried out by MHADA over the past month.
The ground-plus-three structure had one tenant each on three floors and a restaurant and paan-stall on the ground floor. It largely housed zari workshops.
Sanjay Jadhav, executive engineer of MHADA who was at the spot, said, “We suspect it may have happened because of the ongoing road work, as excavation of road has been done deep down and the structure, being old, may have succumbed to the vibrations and effect of the heavy hammering. We will inspect all buildings along this road.”
The local MLA, Amin Patel, however, said it was MHADA’s lethargic attitude that caused the collapse. “If an engineer cannot determine a building is dilapidated, then it is their fault and not of the civic body’s that is carrying out the road works. The road work and the building are about 15 feet away. How can that cause a collapse?” Patel said.
Nausheer Mehta, another corporator who was at the spot, also blamed MHADA. “According to local residents, some iron beams were loaded on the first floor, which may have led to this collapse.”
The assistant municipal commissioner of E ward, Kishor Desai, said, “According to the road engineer, the road work began only about a week ago. We will now be handing over the spot charge, where the collapse happened to MHADA, to carry out any further investigations.”
The work was carried out through the Member of Legislative council and MLA fund.