A couple of municipal corporators and the engineers union have demanded action against Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner who heads both the planning & design and the markets departments, which were responsible for the condition of the five-storey building that came down on Friday.
Yamini Jadhav, the Shiv Sena corporator who represents the area, has alleged that Mhaiskar must be charged with dereliction of duty in the matter, while Manoj Kotak of the BJP has demanded that the civic officer should be shunted back to the state government.
Sources in the civic body suggested there is a feeling that top officials may get off lightly. They pointed out that when a private building collapsed, the police commonly registered cases against the owner or the managing committee. But in the case of the Babu Genu building owned by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), no case was registered against any senior civic officials responsible.
Instead, seven lower rung staff had been suspended for being aware of the modifications made in the building and not initiating any action.
Sainath Rajadhyaksh, general secretary, Brihanmumbai Municipal Engineers Union, said: “Junior level officers have been suspended pending inquiry. Why this partiality? The additional commissioner and deputy commissioner should have been suspended.” The union secretary has written a letter to the municipal commissioner demanding justice for seven engineers who have been suspended.
Asked for her reaction, Mhaiskar said she was saddened by the incident. She explained that the responsibility lay collectively with all departments concerned and that none of the vital information was brought to the notice of the higher officials. “Had the matter been elevated to my level and I had not done anything about it, I would have been guilty,” said Mhaiskar.
Mayor Sunil Prabhu said it was not correct to make personal allegations against any officer. An inquiry committee had been set up by the municipal commissioner with two senior IAS officers heading the probe. “Any officer found guilty will be punished, irrespective of post,” said Prabhu.