After building collapse in Punjab, realtor, contractor booked for negligence

Preliminary inquiry finds that though the plan for a new construction on the adjoining plot had been approved, the work of excavating earth started without informing the local municipal council
Published on Feb 10, 2020 01:03 AM IST
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By, Mohali

A day after a JCB operator was killed in a building collapse in Kharar, the preliminary inquiry found that though the plan for a new construction on the adjoining plot had been approved, the work of excavating earth started without informing the local municipal council, in violation of norms.

The collapsed building located on the Kharar-Landran road housed the office of Ambika Infrastructure, a real estate development firm. Its owner, Praveen Kumar, also owned the adjoining plot, where he planned to set up a commercial tower and even shift his office.

The mishap took place while JCB operator Harvinder Singh, working for a contractor hired by Praveen, was excavating the earth on the plot on Saturday afternoon. He accidentally hit the foundation of the other building, which came down crashing in no time. Three other people who were trapped under the debris were rescued, but Harvinder could not survive.

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has given the Mohali additional district magistrate seven days to conduct a thorough probe and submit a report.

The preliminary inquiry, conducted by Mohali deputy commissioner Girish Dayalan, stated that the builder claimed the contractor started the work without his consent and ended up digging more than the sanctioned depth, which could also have resulted in the collapse.

The DC said the matter will be investigated further once the debris is removed. The detailed report will be submitted in a couple of days, he said.

TWO CASES REGISTERED

Meanwhile, in addition to the builder, who was booked for negligence on Saturday night, police have registered another FIR against the contractor, identified as Pankaj Kumar.

Both cases have been registered under Sections 287(negligent conduct with respect to machinery), 288 (negligent conduct with respect to pulling down or repairing buildings ), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others ), 427(mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees ), 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

No arrest has been made yet.

“Cases have been registered against both Praveen Kumar as well as contractor Pankaj Kumar. They are on the run, and efforts are on to nab them. Their mobile numbers are also switched off,” said Kharar deputy superintendent of police Pall Singh.“Even Harjit Singh (who was rescued after having remained under the debris for eight hours) is not in a condition to record his statement.”

Dayalan confirmed that both Praveen and Pankaj had left the site after Harvinder’s body was recovered on Saturday night.

‘ALL MEN ACCOUNTED FOR’

The work to clear the remaining debris resumed on Sunday.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had called off the rescue operation at 12:30am — 12 hours after the collapse.

After Harvinder’s body was recovered around 10pm, the canine squad searched the debris thrice before confirming that no other person was stuck under the collapsed building.

The district officials had even quizzed the contractor about the total number of workers present at the site at the time of the incident. “All of them are accounted for,” said Kharar sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Himanshu Jain.

Around 100 tonnes of debris is still to be removed, he said, adding that the construction company has been asked to deploy more men and clear it within two days.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Hillary Victor is a Principal Correspondent at Chandigarh. He covers Chandigarh administration, municipal corporation and all political parties.

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