Mumbai building collapse: Ghatkopar residents blame Shiv Sena leader; party distances itself

Shiv Sena leader Sunil and his wife Swati Shitap owned a nursing home on the ground and first floor of the Ghatkopar building that collapsed

mumbai Updated: Jul 26, 2017 09:44 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Ghatkopar building collapse,Shiv Sena leader
Rescue work on on Wednesday.(SATYABRATA TRIPATHY/HT)

Shiv Sena leader Sunil and his wife Swati Shitap, who owned a nursing home on the ground and first floor of the Ghatkopar building that collapsed on Tuesday, found themselves in the line of fire just after the incident. According to locals and corporators, Sunil Shitap was renovating the nursing home and allegedly tampered with the pillars of the structure. The Sena, however, distanced itself from the allegations saying Sunil is not from the party.

Locals alleged the couple had undertaken alterations to the structure after shifting all the patients recently. Swati had contested civic polls from ward number 126 in Ghatkopar (West) in February this year. Archana Bhalerao, a BJP corporator from the ward, said, “The building was completely stable, not dilapidated. The alterations on the ground floor led to the collapse.”

BMC officials confirmed the building was not a part of the list of dilapidated structures prepared before the monsoon. A civic official said, “We did not receive any complaints on illegal alterations, not even on the online portal.”

Former corporator from Congress, Pravin Chheda, however, said the onus of compensating the victims now lies with the Sunil. “He has interfered with three columns of the structure, which resulted in this situation. He was already running an illegal hospital for the past two years and wanted to change it to a guest house.”

Resident Binita Ramchandani said, “Earlier, we had faced water problems because Sunil was running a commercial business. When we questioned him about the renovation, he told us the BMC is operating under him and he can do whatever he wants.”

Despite repeated attempts, both Sunil and Swati Shitap were not available for a comment. Sena vibhag pramukh Rajendra Raut, however, said Sunil is not connected to the Sena. “He is not from the party. We just know him as an acquaintance.”

Sunil operated from his office on the first floor of the building.

According to Raut, Sunil was looking to redevelop the building, but was not getting support from other tenants. “So he started renovating his premises to make the nursing home better.”

Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar also said Sunil was not from the party. He further said, “Whoever is responsible, appropriate action needs to be taken by the BMC and police.”

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 09:44 IST