If residents living in and around the five-storey Aftab Mansion are to be believed, the collapse was a disaster waiting to happen.
The building, which was constructed in 1984, was not very old, but repeated alterations and lack of maintenance over the years had weakened the structure, allege locals.
Residents of the building said they had been discussing repairs for at least five years now, but nothing had been done.
In all, there were 10 flats in the building, a showroom on the ground floor and a basement that was reportedly being used to make furniture.
According to residents, at both the ground and basement levels, the main pillars supporting the structure had either been partially or completely removed, which weakened the building’s foundation.
“The basement was being altered at the time of the collapse,” one resident said, on the condition of anonymity.
Iqbal Gandhi, 55, who lived on the fifth floor, said: “We knew the building was weak. I had repeatedly brought it to everyone’s notice that the building needed repairs, but no one paid heed.”
Gandhi said internal disputes stalled the repairs.
“We’ve been talking of repairing the building for a few years, but every time there would be some dispute,” he said.
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, agreed with Gandhi and said the building had only recently become an ownership property.
“All the occupants were tenants and they later became owners. Earlier, the landlord did not agree to conduct repairs and then, after we became owners, we couldn’t arrive at a consensus.”
Locals who live around said it was known that the structure had weakened.
“The building used to house the rich and famous of Mahim. Despite that, we have never seen even an iota of repair or maintenance work taking place. Everyone knew it was a weak structure, but the residents never bothered,” said a trustee of the trust that runs the neighbouring Mahim dargah.
A local teenager, who witnessed the collapse, said: “The building fell like a pack of cards. It looked like the top floor came down crashing on the other floors.”