A day before the Krishna Niwas building came crashing down in Naupada, Gangaram Stampwala was inside his ground floor apartment, supervising workers who were renovating it.
The building collapsed early on Tuesday, killing 12 of its residents. Ever since, there has been no sign of Stampwala, the survivors said.
Stampwala was getting his 3BHK flat renovated for the past eight days. But residents started getting concerned on Monday evening, when plaster from the ceiling in the other houses started to cave in.
While Stampwala, a Mulund resident, was under the scanner of the Thane civic body, his not returning to the site since the collapse has only increased the suspicion, with local police and municipal authorities looking for him now.
“The collapse has killed almost all the residents of the building, so we are left with no one who can claim Stampwala was responsible. But, from the statement of Amrutlal Patel, 35, a tea vendor who survived the incident, it is clear Stampwala was renovating the flat and making an office. We need to take his statement about the kind of renovation work that was going on, so we can confirm if that is what caused the building to collapse,” said a senior officer from Thane commissionerate.
Rajaram Ganpat Gohagarkar 74, one of the survivors, confirmed Stampwala and his workers were present at the building till 5pm on Monday.
“If he was there on Monday evening, why hasn’t he returned after the collapse?” the officer asked, adding that a case has not been registered yet.
“We will first investigate the cause and only then take action against those responsible,” said Ashok Burpulle, deputy municipal commissioner, encroachment, TMC.