Civic and fire officials said the temporary elevator, which crashed at a Matunga building on Sunday morning killing five labourers and injuring one, should have been dismantled before home owners were given possession of their flats.
The incident occurred at the newly constructed La Sonarisa building. “The lift shouldn’t have been there after families had started shifting in,” Sanjay Kurhade, assistant municipal commissioner, F-North ward, said. “Having a lift in such a dilapidated condition will invite such an incident.”
Chief fire officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade, Uday Tatkare, agreed. “The temporary lift was located in a lift shaft, which indicates that a passenger lift should have been in place, but wasn’t,” Tatkare said. “Such temporary lifts, in dangerous conditions, should be discontinued before possession of flats is given.”
No public authority said it had issued permissions for the temporary elevator. Authorities passed the buck when asked who was responsible for temporary elevators. “Since the building was an SRA [Slum Rehabilitation Authority] building, the SRA has issued them the occupation certificate and hence, it should check the condition of the lifts,” Karhade said.
SS Zende, chief executive officer of the SRA, said: “Although it was our building, it’s the public works department’s [PWD] lift inspectors who should inspect the lift for its safety. We are not responsible for any lifts in our projects.”
The PWD said it issues permissions only for passenger lifts. “We don’t recognise temporary service lifts, which are used for ferrying goods, and hence, do not issue permissions for them,” ST Valikar, chief engineer electrical, PWD said.
It was not clear whether the labourers worked for the builder or were employed by a private contractor working on individual flats in the building.