Two persons were killed while six were injured after a major portion of a two-storey building in Lower Parel’s Victoria House in Mumbai, which houses the offices of JSW Steel Limited, caved in on Monday morning.
Six of those caught under the debris after the collapse around 11.30am — Prakash Nambi, 41, an engineer, Aniruddh Patil, 27, an employee in the company’s finance department, Hiral Dave, 30, Sanatan B Panicker, 60, a typist, SK Dhandhaniya, 41, and Rajiv Jain, 46 — were rescued within 45 minutes.
Two others — Amrita Shukla, 29, a stenographer at the firm’s Raigad-based factory who had gone to the corporate office for some documentation work, and Manoj Shukla, 44, a senior manager — however, died on the spot. The injured were rushed to the nearby KEM Hospital.
Sources said repairs and renovations were going on on the ground floor, which was unoccupied, at the time of the accident.
Keshav Ubale, assistant municipal commissioner, G-south, told DNA that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had not given any permission for such works. The cave-in reportedly occurred after pillars of the building, built in the 19th century, were damaged during the repairs.
“The structure was not dilapidated. From the outside, it looked fine, but from the inside, we could see that the walls had been plastered. There was no debris lying outside the building, though. The owners/administrators of the building did not seek permission from us for the works as per norms,” said Ubale. He added it could not be ascertained if the building is a heritage structure.
The police have registered a case of negligence against the administration of the offices. Sudhakar Ghagare, senior inspector of NM Joshi Marg police station, said, “We have registered a case of causing death due to negligence (section 304 (A)) of the Indian Penal Code, 34 (common intention), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others ), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) against the administration of JSW Steel Ltd. We have also booked the contractor, TCPL, under the same sections. However, no arrests have been made in the case so far. We will conduct inquiries into the case, following which we will decide on the next course of action.”
Fire officials were also guarded, refusing to jump to conclusions on the cause of the collapse.
Meanwhile, Sachin Ahir, minister of state for housing development, mayor Sunil Prabhu, local corporator Kishori Pednekar and opposition leader Dnyanraj Nikam visit the site.
In a statement, JSW Steel Ltd said the Victoria House property, which is the registered office of JSW Ispat Steel Limited, was acquired by it in 2005. It claimed that the accident was triggered by certain modifications carried out within a part of the ground floor that does not belong to the JSW Group.