Mumbai: It is three days since Mumbaikars woke up to the devastating news of slum dwellers in Malad being crushed to death after a 25-feet-high wall fell on the nearby hutments. After relentless rescue operations and discovery of more bodies, the death toll has risen to 26. The BMC has put an investigative team on the job. The team comprises alumnus of IIT Bombay and Veermata Jijamata Technological Institute (VJTI), along with a senior official of the hydraulic engineering department. The team is to present its report within 15 days.
Also, a notice has been served on the contractor who constructed the wall. A BMC official stated that if the contractor is found guilty of using substandard products, he will be penalised. Earlier, the BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner had said that the hutments on which the wall collapsed were illegal; however, locals claimed that a proposal of rehabilitation had been made to them, for which they had been waiting for the last 18 months.
Milind Agaskar, a resident of the community, said, “We were promised rehabilitation and renovation of our chawls, before the last elections by whichever party comes to power.” The residents echoed these sentiments, saying they had complained to local authorities regarding water-logging but nobody paid heed; they even spoke of a similar wall collapse in a nearby village, Ambedkarnagar, two years ago. They added that the authorities did not take the matter seriously, though no casualties had been reported in that incident.