Pics: Rons Bantwal
Mumbai, Nov 13: A six-storey building in a congested street near Crawford Market, shaky to begin with and made shakier by ongoing construction and digging in the neighbourhood, collapsed early on Wednesday morning, crushing to death six members of a family.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will investigate if an adjacent 10-foot pit and vibrations from underground digging in congested Nagdevi Street had affected Sayyed House, 71 years old and matchbox-like.
It collapsed at 5 am, killing Dr Imran Sayyed (38) his wife Dr Rihana (28) and their two children, Omar (12), Mariam (6), as well as Imran’s brother Salman (25) and a relative, Fahad Sheikh (20). The doctor was staying with his family on the fourth floor in the rear of the building, while the two cousins were on the fifth floor. The doctor’s family was found under the rubble on the first floor.
The house is now being emptied and the rescued residents will be given accommodation soon.
Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak agreed that the damage could have been caused by the piling work. “It could be that vibrations while digging rattled the weak portion of the building and resulted in the collapse. We will investigate.”
This construction, by Rubberwala Developers, and was being carried out right next to Sayyed House. It had allegedly been a bone of contention between the developer and the residents over the last few years. Relatives of the dead said they were being forced to be part of the redevelopment project but wanted nothing to do with it.
“We had told them that if we want to redevelop the building we will do it on our own. Those in the building were our family and relatives; why would we join hands with others?” said Sufiana Sayyed, younger brother of Dr Imran.
He alleged that construction often caused the building to vibrate. He said the family had complained to mhada many times.
MHADA officials claimed that following the complaints, an architect was sent in August to inspect the building. “The residents did not allow the architect to carry out a survey saying they were in a dispute with the developer who is building on the next plot and that talks of redevelopment were on,” said a MHADA official.
MHADA officials said they will soon survey the area. “Most of the buildings are more than 80 years old and vulnerable. We will ask them to go for redevelopment,” said deputy chief engineer of MHADA, Balbir Sehgal.
Tabrez Sheikh, director of Rubberwala Developers, said that it was “coincidental” that Sayyed House collapsed. “The top two floors were illegal and had weakened the structure. Our construction work did not affect the structure in any way.”
Pydhonie police have registered a case of accidental death, inspector Samsher Pathan said.