Mumbai : Four engineers from the planning and design department (P & D) of the BMC were arrested last week for not propping the Babu Genu market building. However, the civic engineers’ union says that propping was the job of the local ward officer and the assistant commissioner (Markets).

The four-storey building near Dockyard Road station building collapsed on September 27, killing 61 people. It was only 30 years old.
Former deputy chief engineer Vilas Sagwekar of the P & D department, one of the four arrested, had written a letter on June 6, 2012 to the ward officer and the assistant commissioner (Market), that it was:
A) advisable to immediately vacate the building to avoid any loss of life and property
B) provide propping wherever necessary to avoid any danger
to adjoining structures and passers-by
C) also remove additional load by removing the mezzanine floor
Sagwekar retired on July 30, 2012. The assistant commissioner (market), Chandrashekhar Chore, replied to the letter on September 28, 2012 saying:
“This office has informed the local ward officer to direct the concerned staff to provide propping wherever necessary in the said structure to avoid any untoward incident.
“The Deputy Superintendent (Market) has also been told to initiate the procedure for vacating the premises and remove the mezzanine floor constructed by licensees which is causing additional load on structural members of the said market building.’’
After this, a structural audit was conducted by Pentacle Consultant Pvt Ltd and the report was submitted on November 5, 2012. The report mentioned the following points:
“Temporary rehabilitation of tenants needs to be provided, because time duration for the repair works will be approximately 12 months. The structure stability for the same will be for 10 years.
“The condition of the building is not bad. But you are advised to undertake repair work at the earliest. Urgent propping is suggested immediately on ground floor i.e. godown area. Any delay may affect the structural condition adversely.
“Major structural repair is needed on the ground floor beams, columns and slab; you are advised to immediately take up the repair work to restore the structures of above mentioned godown cum residential building.’’
After receiving this report, the P&D Department once again wrote a letter on December 12, 2012 to the local ward officer saying: “You are requested to do the necessary propping along
with minor repairs wherever required at the dangerous portion of the building to avoid any mishap.’’ No action was taken and the building crashed on September 27.

3,500 Engs to strike work
3,500 civic engineers will go on a one-day strike on Thursday to protest against their colleagues being arrested for building crashes and instances of assaults on them while on duty. Members of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Engineers and Municipal Engineers Association will go on a day’s leave on Thursday.
The agitation will be repeated on 17th, 18th 19th.

Sachin Unhalekar

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