Court rejects discharge plea in 2015 toilet collapse case

Published on Jan 21, 2023 11:39 PM IST

Mumbai: The sessions court has refused to discharge two Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, an architect and a civic contractor booked for the death of a 41-year-old, who fell into a septic tank after a toilet collapsed in Trombay in March 2015

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Mumbai: The sessions court has refused to discharge two Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, an architect and a civic contractor booked for the death of a 41-year-old, who fell into a septic tank after a toilet collapsed in Trombay in March 2015.

Then assistant engineer Keshav Yallappa Dhotre, structural engineer Raju Jain, architect Arun Sondulkar and contractor Meena Ramani were among 10 accused booked for negligence after the death of the victim, Kalpana Pimpale.

Eight years after the incident, the BMC officials claimed that over use of the toilet, about thrice its designed capacity as well as lack of maintenance and cleaning of septic tank had resulted in fast deterioration of the structure.

It was contended that the toilet blocks were constructed and handed over to the BMC in December 2009. On January 4, 2012, the civic body entered into an MoU with a community-based organisation formed by slum dwellers for operation and maintenance of the toilet. As per the MoU, it was the duty of the organisation to maintain and keep the toilets clean, remove choked drains and it was the duty of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to carry out structural repairs as and when required. Both CBO and MCGM failed and neglected to perform their respective duties and therefore the commode collapsed.

Further, they contended that the assistant commissioner M/E Ward was asked to take necessary steps for cleaning all septic tanks and sewage disposal systems which was necessary to avoid such unfortunate incidents, but no such steps were taken.

The inspection of the community toilet was undertaken by an architect, Nayan Dholakia, and he submitted a report to the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project on April 13, 2015. In the report, he found that there were no proper bearings for the slab and there was no slab beneath the W/C pan on the third toilet block which collapsed into the septic tank beneath.

Their lawyer argued that due to humid conditions in the Mumbai region, the sand available for construction is of low quality and the possible erosion of steel used for constructing slab over the septic tank due to constant use of water caused the ground to collapse.

The court, however, held that there were sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused and their plea for discharge was misconceived and liable to be rejected.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Charul Shah is senior reporter covering the legal beat for Hindustan Times. She has spent over a decade in the industry covering criminal investigations and judiciary from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.

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