The city witnessed its third building collapse this year on Friday morning when a dilapidated Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation staff quarters at Mazgaon in south-central Mumbai came down like a pack of cards, killing 14 people.
An estimated 60 people were feared trapped in the rubble and efforts were on to rescue them late into the night. According to the fire brigade, 30 residents were rescued and are being treated for multiple injuries.
The four-storey structure near Babu Genu market, which housed 21 families of BMC employees, gave way at 5.45am.
Local corporator Yamini Jadhav said the BMC administration is responsible for the tragedy. “We have been giving representations from 2007 to repair the structure, and I had even pursued the matter before the monsoon began,” Jadhav said.
But the civic body blamed the collapse on a local firm of Jain decorators for making structural changes to the ground floor. The BMC has filed a first information report (FIR) against the owner Ashok Mehta, who runs a decoration business from the ground floor.
“We suspect the developer overloaded the illegal mezzanine floor and destabilised the foundation,” said Sitaram Kunte, municipal commissioner, BMC.
The firemen and a team of National Disaster Rescue Force were carrying on rescue operations till the time of going to press. Neighbouring Mazgaon Dock authorities also deployed their sophisticated machinery to aid the rescuers.
Sources said BMC officials had visited the market last July and sought urgent repairs. However, their plea was unheard. Instead, the BMC decided to do another survey, which said the same thing and pegged the cost for repairs at Rs 1.25 crore.
The repair cost was even included in the civic budget in March 2012, but more than a year-and-a-half later, the BMC is yet to even make an estimate of the repair work.