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Minors Among 15 Killed after Housing Society Wall Collapses in Pune, Builders Booked

The Pune Collectorate and Pune Municipal Corporation authorities said they will separately probe the tragedy even as the victims and locals blamed the builders and the civic body for lapses.


Updated:June 29, 2019, 7:52 PM IST

Pune: At least 15 people, mostly hailing from West Bengal and Bihar, were killed and four others injured when a compound wall of a housing society collapsed here in Maharashtra early on Saturday, officials said.

A portion of the nearly 22-feet compound wall of the society collapsed on shanties located at its base at Kondhwa in Pune. The makeshift shelters were set up for labourers working for an under-construction residential project located downward where excavation work was underway.

The incident took place between 1:30 am and 1:45 am, said the police.

Later on Saturday, a case of culpable homicide was registered against the developers of the two residential projects, site engineers and labour contractors in connection with the wall collapse, an officer said.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered the Pune Collector to conduct a detailed probe into the incident in Kondwa as dramatic videos on social media showed cars lined up next to the structure nose-dive. He also announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the deceased.

Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao also expressed his grief. "I was deeply saddened to know about the death of innocent workers, including women and children in the incident of collapse of a compound wall of a residential complex in Pune. Every life lost in incident was precious. My heart goes out to the kin of all those who lost their loved ones, and wish speedy recovery to the injured," he said in a statement.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan urged the Maharashtra government to extend all help to families of the dead and injured.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the death of 15 people from Bihar and announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the families of each of the deceased.

A statement issued by the chief minister's office in Patna said Kumar expressed "deep sorrow over the wall collapse at Kondhwa in Pune and condoled the death of 15 people from Katihar district in Bihar".

Katihar District Magistrate Poonam said the deceased have been identified. All of them were residents of Barsoi sub-division of the district, 14 from Balrampur block and one from Kadwa, she said. She added that arrangements are being made to expeditiously bring the bodies by an air ambulance and prompt payments of ex-gratia would be ensured.

It was around 2.15 am when the compound wall of Alcon Stylus residential building suddenly came crashing down trapping the victims still asleep in their huts, police and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials said. Around half a dozen vehicles parked near the compound wall also were dragged down as a portion of the earth caved in and crashed onto the hutments below.

Teams of rescuers who rushed to the spot managed to rescue just three alive, including two minors. Most of them were labourers, the officials said. Among the dead were 10 men, five children. Ongoing work to rescue some others feared trapped in the rubble, was hampered by intermittent monsoon showers.

"We are immediately issuing a stop-work order to an adjoining building where construction activities are underway. We shall also give full relief to the victims' families," Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak told reporters here.

Guardian Minister Chandrakant Patil who said he was rushing to Pune, warned that no guilty will be spared. The Pune Collectorate and Pune Municipal Corporation authorities said they will separately probe the tragedy even as the victims and locals blamed the builders and the civic body for lapses.

The victims identified are mostly labourers working on the building sites — Sunil Singh, Sonali Das, Bhima Das, Deepan Sharma, Alok Verma, Mohan Sharma, Sangeeta Devi, Neeta, Avdhesh Singh, Aman Sharma, Ravi Sharma, Ajit Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Laxmikant Sahani, Ovi Das.

Heavy rain may have loosened soil

On the probable cause behind the incident, Pune Municipal Corporation commissioner Saurabh Rao said prima facie, the soil may have loosened due to heavy rain coupled with the excavation work that was carried out "irresponsibly" close to the retaining wall of the housing society. A five-member committee has been set up to probe the incident, he added. It will comprise an additional

collector, officials of Building Permission department of the municipal corporation, labour department and an independent structural expert from the College of Engineering.

"The committee will submit its report in the next seven days, and action will be taken against those responsible for the mishap as per findings of the report," he said.

Pune had received 73.1 mm of rain on Friday, the second highest rainfall in June since 2010.

"Deep excavation work was going on at the site adjacent to the Alcon Stylus society. The retaining wall which caved in was located between the under-construction site and the housing society," Rao said. "In the landslide, the 20-22 feet wall caved in and fell on the makeshift shanties of labourers which were put up along the wall."

Rao said there are prescribed guidelines and dos and don'ts when permission is given for constructing a building. "According to preliminary investigation, deep excavation was being carried out in an irresponsible manner at the site. The digging work was going on almost near the wall," he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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