Thane building collapse: 74 dead, both builders arrested
Thane (Maharashtra): In an important development, the second builder accused in Thane building collapse case was arrested from Siddharth Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.
Police have registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the two builders - Jamil Qureshi and Salim Shaikh, who were absconding since the incident.
Salim Shaikh was arrested earlier.
Both the arrests were made by the Thane Crime Branch.
As the death toll in Thursday evening`s seven-storey building collapse rose to 74 on Saturday, the National Disaster Response Force announced that it was ending rescue operation in the tragic collapse. Meanwhile, municipal authorities said that an adjacent building will also be demolished by this evening as a precautionary measure.
In the meantime, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has reportedly been summoned to Delhi regarding the case.
According to the Regional Disaster Management Control (RDMC) sources, the mishap left 74 people dead including 33 men, 23 women, and 18 children.
Of the 60 injured, 36 have been admitted to hospitals in Thane, Kalwa and Mumbra. The seriously injured have been shifted to JJ and Sion Hospitals in Mumbai.
A 65-year-old woman, identified as Kutibi Shaikh, was rescued after being trapped in the debris for almost 30 hours, sources said. She was admitted to the CSM hospital here last night in a state of shock but is stable, doctors said.
At the collapse site, another survivor Shabnam told reporters that she had received a distress call on her mobile phone from a young teacher around 3 pm yesterday, saying she was trapped along with six-seven students, but lost contact thereafter.
The National Disaster Response Force was pressed into service to assist local police and civic administration.
The unauthorised building had been constructed in just three months, without the relevant permissions and certificates.
On Friday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced the suspension of two officials - Thane Municipal Corporation deputy municipal commissioner in-charge of illegal constructions Deepak Chavan and local senior inspector of police KP Naik.
Chavan also announced a probe to be conducted by an additional chief secretary of the urban development department.
While civic officials admitted that the building was unauthorised, they blamed the builders who went ahead with the construction despite not having relevant permissions.
When asked if the building was on forest land, a civic official confirmed the same stating that the forest department did not heed to its correspondence.
"We had written to the concerned forest official requesting him to look into the unauthorised construction of the building in October last year. We had even sent a reminder next month but did not get any response," he told a news agency.
The official said that in March, a notice was slapped on builder Adnan Seth, one of the partners in the company constructing the structure.
A forest official said that the land was privately owned and did not come under the purview of the forest department.
Civic sources also said that sub-standard material was used in construction of the building and that it had no occupancy certificate. They also hinted at the involvement of politically motivated fourth party.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Home Minister RR Patil visited the spot yesterday.
Termed as one of the worst building disasters in the state in the past decade, activists from the area said that there were scores of such building in the Mumbra-Kalyan region due to the builder-officials-police-politicians nexus.
Thane houses many heavy industries.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) legislator from the area Ramesh Patil alleged that the municipal commissioner did not pay heed to his complaints about the building being unauthorised and unfit for occupation.
There were around 35 families residing in the building.
Local activist Mangal Patil had also registered repeated complaints with the Thane Municipal Corporation about the unauthorised structure, but to no avail. Speaking to mediapersons, Mangal Patil claimed that there were over 100 such buildings in the area.
(With Agency inputs)
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