Uproar in Maharashtra assembly over building collapse

Mumbai, April 5 (IANS) The Maharashtra legislative assembly witnessed uproarious scenes Friday over Thursday’s building collapse in Thane in which 48 people were killed.

Not satisfied with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan suspending two lower-level officials, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s Eknath Khadse and Shiv Sena members demanded the suspension of Thane Municipal Corporation commissioner R.A. Rajeev for the incident.

Khadse also demanded a White Paper on all illegal construction activities in cities like Mumbai, Thane, Pune and others in the state, and stringent action against those flouting construction norms which endangered peoples’ lives.

Samajwadi Party (SP) Maharshtra chief Abu Asim Azmi demanded that all officials guilty of negligence should be charged with murder for the death of the 48 people in the building collapse.

The BJP’s leader of the opposition in the legislative council Vinod Tawde demanded that the builders should be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and that be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.

“The government should check the telephone call records of the builders and officials in the past few months to ascertain who was helping them and take action against them all,” Tawde said.

Chavan said that he would seek a report on the issue from concerned officials and civic bodies across the state and consider amending laws to check illegal construction in the state.

Chavan also announced a probe into the incident, the worst building collapse in recent years. The probe will be conducted by an additional chief secretary of the urban development department.

He said that two officials – Thane Municipal Corporation deputy municipal commissioner in-charge of illegal constructions Deepak Chavan and Senior Inspector of Police K.P. Naik – had been suspended for ignoring the unauthorised building in their respective jurisdictions.

He added that the state government would pay compensation of Rs.200,000 for each of the dead and Rs.50,000 to those injured in the tragedy, which has sent shockwaves through the realty industry.

At least 45 persons were killed, 50 injured and many feared trapped under the debris of a seven-storied building at Daighar in Kalyan town of Thane district.

The four-month-old building was constructed in just three months. It collapsed Thursday evening.

More than 24 hours after the tragedy, rescuers grappled with a mountain of rubble over 20 feet high.

Assistant Commander R.S. Rajesh of the National Disaster Response Force, supervising rescue oeprations at the site, said that it could take another two days to clear the rubble and rescue those trapped under it.

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