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Illegal structure falls in Mumbai’s Bhiwandi, kills three, including builder’s mother

One resident is still feared trapped inside the debris

mumbai Updated: Nov 25, 2017 00:38 IST
Megha Pol
Megha Pol
Hindustan Times
Bhiwandi building collapse,illegal building,encroachment
The NDRF team conducts rescue operations in Bhiwandi on Friday.(Praful Gangurde)

Three people were killed and nine injured after a ground-plus-three storey building in Bhiwandi collapsed on Friday morning. One resident is still feared trapped inside the debris. The seven-year-old structure, Tahir Bijnore building in Navi Basti, Bhiwandi was illegal and constructed using sub-standard building material, said official sources.

After Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation officials asked police to registered a case against the owner, Mohammad Tahir Rafiq Ahmed, he was booked for culpable homicide, causing hurt by negligence and sections of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act. He is yet to be arrested. One of the victims, mother Jaibunisa Rafiq Ansari, 61, is his mother.

“We rescued nine people from the debris. The building collapsed at 8.30am. It is illegal and our anti-encroachment department had served notices to the owner several times,” said Ashok Rankhamb, civic commissioner.

The building had a single flat on each floor, while the terrace doubled up as a fourth floor with metal sheds. The ground floor had shops. Of the four families that lived in the building, Ahmed, his mother, wife and two children, were occupants of the second-floor flat.

The building collapsed on single-structured houses, destroying them completely. “Residents said a woman is trapped inside the debris. We cleared the debris at the spot where the building collapsed. We are now clearing the debris of houses on which the building collapsed to find the woman,” Rankhamb added.

Residents suspect a woman is still trapped under the debris. (Praful Gangurde)

Navi Basti is a congested area, which made rescue operations difficult, said officials.

“The lanes are so narrow that we cannot get the machinery inside. We still tried to get the JCBs inside, however, most of the rescue operations were carried out manually. Dogs helped us to spot two of the victims. We had to tread carefully so as not to hurt those trapped,” said Mahesh Nalawade, deputy commander of NDRF.

After rescuing one family immediately after the collapse, the rescue team pulled out two bodies at 3.00 pm. Dog squads and torches were used to identify trapped residents.

Two NDRF teams, two ambulances, two fire brigade vehicles and more than 50 labourers carried out the rescue operations.

‘Use of inferior material, haphazard work to blame’

The collapse of a seven-year-old building in Bhiwandi has raised questions over the structural strength of buildings under the jurisdiction of Bhiwandi Nizampur City Municipal Corporation (BNCMC).

Building collapses are common in the city.

After each tragedy, officials survey dangerous buildings in the area, but nothing changes, said residents.

“The building was constructed on forest land. The owner did not seek permission from the corporation and so not only was the building constructed in a haphazard way, but is also unauthorised. No development rules were adhered to during the construction,” said Ashok Rankhamb acting commissioner, BNCMC.

“This is a densely populated area and the buildings are scattered, which hampers rescue operations. We could not gain access to the collapsed building. I will get a detailed report on all other buildings in this area and take action,” he said.

The building collapsed on single-structured houses, destroying them completely. (Praful Gangurde)

Following a series of building collapses last year, civic commissioner E Ravendiran had ordered a structural audit, and the rehabilitation of people living in extremely dangerous structures. Not much has changed since then, said residents.

“Haphazard development coupled with substandard construction materials led to the collapse. Political interference is also to blame. Local politicians help unauthorised structures to mushroom,” said Sunil Zhalke, public relations officer, BNCMC.

Teen dead, unaware parents await wedding

Ruksaar Yakub Khan, 18, who was killed in the Bhiwandi building collapse, was all set to get married two months from now. Her parents and brother, who were injured in the collapse, still don’t know that she is dead. They were told that she is currently in the intensive care unit and still believe she will recover in time for the wedding.

Ruksar’s mother Sabira Khan, 45; father Yakub Khan, 58; brother Asif, 22; and Abid, 21; escaped with injuries after Tahir Bijnore building collapsed on their home.

Nasreen Salim Baig, Ruksar’s elder sister, is the only one who knows of her death. She said she has no idea how to break the news to her family.

Nasreen’s brother, Asif, called her while he was trapped inside the debris. “I was in Thane. When Asif called, I rushed to the site of the collapse. By then, locals had managed to pull out all of my family members alive, except Ruksar.” Sabira and Yakub suffered minor injuries and were admitted to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Bhiwand. Asif and Abid suffered injuries on their chest and abdomen and were shifted to Thane Civil Hospital for tests.

“My grandson Arbaz was in the toilet. I pulled him outside, woke my three children and tried to rush out. However, the wall of the adjoining building crashed down on us,” Sabira told HT.

“It is a relief that my family is safe, we are eagerly awaiting Ruksar’s wedding,” she said.

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 00:33 IST