Thursday's chawl collapse at Mumbra, triggered by a landslide, that claimed five lives once again highlighted the failure in taking action against illegal and dangerous structures within the Thane Municipal Corporation's jurisdiction. On Tuesday, Kalwa's Sonibai Bhawan collapsed, killing 10 people and injuring five. There are over 5,000 illegal structures in TMC limits.
Civic officials said Aksa Chawl was built on forestland. Sonibai Bhawan, too, was an illegal structure, they said.
"The forest authorities should have taken action against the chawl," said Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Anti-Encroachment) B.G. Pawar.
Civic officials were unaware whether residents of the chawl had been served evacuation notices and refused to take the blame for the tragedy.
"This tragedy occurred because of two reasons — a landslide and the chawl's structural weakness. Everyone is responsible — right from those who built it to those who stayed in it. You can't blame only civic officials for it. This chawl was built on forestland. We can't access it with the machines required for the rescue operations. We had to do everything manually," said Thane Municipal Commissioner R.A. Rajeev.
Residents said politicians were equally to be blamed for supporting illegal constructions in the area. Only now have they woken up, residents said, to the need for cluster development — the demolition of all illegal and dangerous structures in an area and a planned township coming up in their place.
Local MLA Jitendra Awhad has asked for an immediate meeting with Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to chalk out a plan for the redevelopment of Mumbra and Kausa.
Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde said his party would introduce a resolution in the civic general body on Friday to amend the Development Control Rules to allow smooth rehabilitation of people residing in Mumbra, Kalwa and Wagle Estate, where the highest number of illegal constructions exist. However, this will have to be approved by the state government.
Raj Patel (5), Amit Patel (7), Reema Patel (28), Shantidevi Yadav (35), Seema (age unknown) and Madhuri (age unknown) died in Thursday's tragedy. Among the injured were Rani Yadav (8), Neha Patel (8), Shamsher Sheikh Noor (age unknown) and an 8-month-old girl whose identity has not yet been ascertained.
They were admitted to Rehmania Hospital and Kalsekar Hospital.
The state government announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the kin of the deceased.
The civic body has cleared the debris and plans to demolish the remaining rooms of the chawl on Friday.
"We have evacuated the residents and provided transit camps at nearby civic schools," said Pawar.