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Sena Leader Sunil Sitap Booked for Mumbai Building Collapse That Killed 12

The nursing home on the ground floor wherein the renovation work was underway is reportedly owned by Shiv Sena leader Sunil Sitap.

News18.com

Updated:July 26, 2017, 7:53 AM IST
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Mumbai: Shiv Sena leader Sunil Sitap was on Tuesday evening detained by Mumbai police and booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and endangering lives of others, after a four-storey building collapsed in Mumbai's Ghatkopar, killing 17 people and leaving several trapped.

Residents of the building had, earlier, alleged that tragedy struck due to the renovation work being carried out in a nursing home on the ground floor, owned by Shiv Sena leader Sunil Sitap.

Joint Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, said that initial reports suggest that the accused was carrying out illegal renovation in the building. "An investigation to this effect is underway."

"There was a renovation work being carried out in the building. There was a nursing home, named Sitap Nursing Home, on the ground floor of the building which is owned by a man Sunil Sitap, who is a local Shiv Sena leader. A meeting of residents was also called last night opposing this renovation work," news agency ANI quoted a resident as saying.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the collapse site on Tuesday evening and informed media that some people were still trapped.

"Police are investigating the matter and BMC will also investigate and submit its report within 15 days. The government will take stringent action against culprits," Fadnavis said.

Congress leader Praveen Chheda, the ex MLA from this constituency, has said that the onus of compensating for the mishap lies on Sitap.

"Property belongs to Sena's S. Sitap. He was running a hospital on the ground floor and was now going to run a guest house. The onus lies on him," he said.

BMC officials are yet to ascertain the reason of collapse, though.

Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant told CNN-News18 that he didn't know what exactly happened, calling the incident saddening. When told about the allegations that the tragedy befell the building because of the renovation work on the ground floor, he said: "We cannot leave anyone... it's a heinous offence. An inquiry has to be set up." He further added that Sitap had never been an office bearer in the party.

Rescue Operations

Civic officials said that four women and an infant were among those killed. Eleven people were injured and 23 have been extricated from the rubble so far. The injured have been admitted to various hospitals in the neighbourhood, said Mahesh Narvekar, the chief of BMC’s Disaster Management cell.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has also been pressed into service to rescue those trapped under the rubble. The Mumbai Police cordoned off the area while traffic was blocked on the Lal Bhadur Shastri road to provide a 'green corridor' to rush those rescued to hospitals.

The structure, which came down on Tuesday morning at Ghatkopar's Damodar Park area, housed around 15 families. “About 75 per cent of the debris has been removed and a search operation is underway to find if anyone is still trapped under the rubble,” said officials.

The civic body's control room had received a call around 10.45 am about the accident, a BMC official said. Fire engines, a rescue van and ambulances were rushed to the spot immediately.

Cries of help

According to a local resident, it was a 35-year-old structure. The city and its suburbs received heavy rains over the last several days. The building was not listed among those in dangerous category, as per local residents.

In the morning, eyewitnesses said, they heard a loud sound, similar to that of lightning as the building came down in a massive heap of rubble. “When I came out of my building, I found a lot of dust and cries of people seeking help. I saw parts of the building collapse,” an eyewitness said.

According to a written reply by the government in the assembly about unsafe buildings in the metropolis, a survey by the BMC earlier this year had identified 617 such structures. These buildings were termed as "dilapidated" in the survey report. The BMC has initiated action on the report under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888.

In all, 112 such buildings were vacated, while 42 were referred to the technical advisory committee to decide their fate.

The BMC has also submitted an affidavit in the Bombay High Court regarding 45 buildings identified as dangerous for habitation where people continue to live.

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