More than 48 hours after 61 people were killed following the collapse of a civic staff quarters in Mazgaon, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) suspended seven officials and initiated inquiry against 11 others on Sunday.
The move comes after it came to light that the four-storeyed structure had been in need of urgent repairs and that civic apathy and red-tapeism were responsible for the collapse.
However, despite the scale of the disaster, the BMC has not held any senior official responsible, though voices are being raised against additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, who is in charge of both departments indicted for the incident, and municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte.
The seven people suspended from duty, pending inquiry, are all lower-level officials from the planning and design (P&D) department and the markets department.
The highest-ranking official suspended is an executive engineer from P&D department, MN Patel.
Details emerging show that these two departments passed the buck onto each other despite internal audit reports that recommended immediate and major repairs to the building, which housed employees from the markets department.
Other officials who will face inquiry but have not been suspended include assistant commissioner (markets) Chandrashekhar Chore and a serving as well as a retired deputy chief engineer from P&D department.
The BMC has formed a committee of two additional municipal chiefs, Rajiv Jalota and Mohan Adtani, to look into the incident and submit a report within a month.
Kunte held a long meeting on Sunday to discuss the incident and reportedly gave an earful to officials from both departments.
Politicians across parties demanded action against senior IAS-level officers too. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said Kunte should be blamed for the collapse.
“Kunte follows the chief minister’s directions. If the accused are to be named, Kunte’s name will be at the top,” Raut said.
Public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal said: “There is no doubt that the BMC is to be blamed. Action must be taken against senior officers as well.”