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Rescue efforts hit hurdles

Sudden showers, mismanagement led to slowing of relief operations.

delhi Updated: Nov 16, 2010 23:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Hundreds of rescue workers raced against time on Tuesday to save the remaining residents who were still buried under the debrise of the building that collapsed in Lalita Park on Monday.

As many as 66 people were killed and 80 others injured when the seven-storey building collapsed in Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi on Monday evening.

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the dead, Rs 1 lakh for minors who died in the incident and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

Rescue operations on Tuesday also moved at a slow pace. Even after 36 hours, rescue workers feared that more than 30 people might still be trapped under the debris.

Around 50 men from the Delhi Fire Services, 50 from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and 100 National Disaster Response Force were involved in the rescue.

Workers blamed the delay in the rescue operations on the authorities' mismanagement.

"We have life-detecting equipment, gas cutters and other things but the fire services are not allowing us to do our job," said an ITBP officer requesting anonymity, as he not authorised to speak to the media.

Sudden showers also hampered the rescue work. The police also had a tough time controlling the crowd as thousands gathered around the mishap site.

As a precautionary measure, the building adjacent to the collapsed one was also evacuated by the police on Tuesday. The second building, also owned by Amrit Pal Singh Sachdeva, the owner of the collapsed building, also housed nearly 300-odd daily wage earners and their families.

Holding the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) responsible, the chief minister said the builder should not have been allowed to construct floors beyond permissible level.

"It is the MCD's responsibility to check if a building is fit for occupancy or not," Dikshit said.

A magisterial enquiry into the incident has also been issued as well. Deputy commissioner (east) will have to submit the report within 10 days.

She also directed the divisional commissioner to evacuate the residents of nearby buildings to check their quality of construction and related safety measures.

Delhi urban development minister Ashok Kumar Walia called a meeting of the MCD commissioner, engineering member (Delhi Jal Board), chief engineer (Irrigation and Flood), chief engineer (Delhi Development Authority) and special secretary (Urban Development).

The MCD has also been asked to initiate a survey of all buildings with basements within 300-m radius of Pushta Road, along Yamuna river, to identify dangerous buildings. Buildings with visible cracks will also be minutely checked.

First Published: Nov 16, 2010 23:16 IST