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BMC visited Mumbai building 4 days before collapse, didn’t ‘see’ Sena man’s renovation work

While Shitap has been arrested for carrying out illegal alterations to the building which allegedly led to the collapse, a question remains unanswered – did BMC ignore the work on purpose?

mumbai Updated: Jul 27, 2017 12:54 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Mumbai building collapse,Ghatkopar tragedy,Shiv Sena Sunil Shitap
The rescue operation took 30 hours.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

Four days before Siddhi Sai building in Ghatkopar collapsed, officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s N ward office visited the spot to initiate the procedure to cancel the licence of Sena leader Sunil Shitap’s nursing home on the ground floor.

The closure report for the licence submitted by the team did not mention any renovation work being undertaken on the ground floor, which the residents claimed started around 10 days ago.

While Shitap has been arrested for carrying out illegal alterations to the building which allegedly led to the collapse, a question remains unanswered – did BMC ignore the work on purpose?

Seventeen people died as the five-storey building near Shreyas cinema in Ghatkopar collapsed on Tuesday.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a probe into the incident, which will be headed by a senior IAS officer.

Bhagyashree Kapse, the officer who headed Ghatkopar ward office of the BMC, said the report her office received from the team did not mention any renovation work. Further, the residents of the building too did not lodge any complaint against Shitap.

“Even if there were changes made to the structure three days after the inspection, residents should have complained to the ward office. We did not receive any complaints,” said Kapse.

Residents alleged Shitap told them he had received permission from the civic body to carry out the work.

Birendra Singh, a resident who survived the collapse, said Shitap had called for a meeting 10 days ago where announced he had the permission to carry out the work. “We objected to it. I was trying to register a complaint with the N ward, but was unable to reach the right person,” he said.

Kapse said a user-change permission (to convert the ground floor use from residential to a nursing home) was granted in 2009, but a structural audit was not conducted.

A senior civic official said, “Under section 314 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the owners have to seek permission for any additions or alterations to the structure.”

BMC officials said the cause of the building collapse is yet to be ascertained. Kapse said, “The building was a 1983 structure. We have sent the debris for testing to ascertain the condition of the building.”

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 12:51 IST