Officials who dealt with files pertaining to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Babu Genu market building in Dockyard Road may go scot-free because the civic body's technical committee inquiry into the incident has blamed a private developer-decorator alone for the incident. The building crashed last year killed 61 persons.
The technical committee was headed by BMC's director of engineering services and project chief Laxman Vhatkar.
The BMC had licensed portions of the ground floor of the four-storey building to owner of Mamamiya Developers, Ashok Mehta, who also doubled up as a decorator. In order to gain additional space for storing decoration materials, Mehta had allegedly tampered with structural members (beams/pillars) of the building, leading to the structure's collapse.
"Our interim report had suggested the decorator had chiselled pillars of the building to construct a mezzanine floor to get additional space. This had added load on the building's structural members. However, we wanted to ascertain if there were other factors which triggered the building's crash and that's why the detailed inquiry was instructed," a senior civic official said, wishing anonymity.
According to the technical committee's observations, materials used in construction of the building were not of inferior quality. The committee had also studied files pertaining to the buildings constructed by non-BMC governing agencies near the collapsed structure. This was to know if the construction activities of the agencies had affected stability of the market department's building.
However, the corporation's administrative probe into the incident is still pending. The two-member panel comprising additional municipal commissioners Rajiv Jalota and Mohan Adtani will first go through the technical committee's report before submitting its final report to civic chief Sitaram Kunte.
Meanwhile, the technical committee's conclusion mean that officials dealing with files relating to the ill-fated structure will not be held responsible for the episode.
"Since the committee has concluded the building crashed due to illegal tampering, other factors like the structure was in the immediate need of repair/redevelopment may go unnoticed. The occupants had been demanding urgent repair/redevelopment of the building. Had that happened, the incident could well have been averted. Blaming only the developer hence will not suffice," a source pointed out.
The BMC-owned four-story building, located close to Eastern Freeway in Dockyard, had crashed on September 27 during the early hours of the day
The unprecedented incident had killed 61 persons and left 30 others injured