Panel to probe wall collapse as blame game begins
Officials said it had awarded a ₹92.18 lakh contract for the drain repair on the request of the residents’ welfare association (RWA), but the wall next to it was constructed over 25-30 years ago by the Jalvayu Vihar Sahkari Awas Samiti (JVSAS)
The Noida authority and the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration on Tuesday evening said a probe committee will be set up soon to look into the wall collapse incident at Jal Vayu Vihar in Noida’s Sector 21 that killed four persons earlier in the day. The committee is likely to be headed by Noida authority’s assistant chief executive officer Manvendra Singh and will be tasked to submit a probe report within 15 days, said officials in the know of the matter.
Officials also said the family of those killed will each be given a monetary compensation of ₹5 lakh by the Noida authority.
The boundary wall had collapsed during a drain repair work undertaken by contractors hired by the Noida authority. Soon after the incident, authority officials started washing their hands off any culpability and instead blamed “the old construction design of the wall” for the mishap.
Officials said it had awarded a ₹92.18 lakh contract for the drain repair on the request of the residents’ welfare association (RWA), but the wall next to it was constructed over 25-30 years ago by the Jalvayu Vihar Sahkari Awas Samiti (JVSAS).
“It is a private society wall and it was not constructed by the Noida authority. We are setting up a preliminary inquiry into the matter and will take necessary action if required. Meanwhile, a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was called in for rescue efforts and we provided resources and excavators to help rescue those trapped under the debris,” said Ritu Maheshwari, chief executive officer (CEO), Noida authority.
Officials said the authority’s third-party quality surveillance agency, Fortress Infracon Limited, and the technical audit cell inspected the spot after the wall collapse and its findings will be given to the probe committee.
Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate Suhas LY, said, “We know that the wall was constructed and maintained by the society. The drain repair work was allotted to a private contractor by the Noida authority. We are talking to all officials concerned and getting an inspection done. A panel will be set up accordingly to look into the matter.”
Noida authority officials said the wall did not have an “expansion joint”, a structure that usually bears some of the wall load. The depth of the wall foundation was also shallow, the officials said, adding that it was not sufficient to bear the weight of the iron grille fencing on top.
“The wall was old and had all these shortcomings, which led to the collapse. It was being maintained by the society itself,” said an authority official, asking not to be named.
Residents, on their part, said the sewage drain next to the wall was constructed three years ago by the Noida authority. It became clogged with waste since then and the RWA had asked for the drain to be cleaned before the monsoon this year. The work on the drain started last week and the RWA was not aware of it, residents said.
“On Saturday, the guards informed me that the contractor was digging the drain and taking away tractors full of bricks from the site. Any boundary wall will not have a foundation of more than three or four feet. If you dig three feet and remove the supporting bricks, how do you expect the wall to stay up? I am not an engineer, but if I were to disturb the foundation of a wall, I would strengthen it with some sort of a support before carrying out any further work,” said Pradeep Kumar, chairman, JVSAS.
Kumar said the RWA was neither informed about the scope of work by the contractor nor consulted regarding the strength of the wall and whether it needed support.
The contractor hired by the authority, M/s MD Projects and Construction, started work on Saturday and its proprietor Arjun Yadav ( relative of Sundar Yadav, who was booked by the police in the case) could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Meanwhile, labour supplier Gul Mohammad has been arrested by Gautam Budh Nagar police on charges of negligence and for employing minors.