Mumbai: Amidst scathing criticism of corruption and negligence, the Maharashtra government on Friday assured a probe by the Additional Chief Secretary into the Thane building collapse and also suspended the deputy commissioner of the municipality. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan further told the state assembly that if the building was found constructed on forest land, action would be taken against the Range Forest Officer and also against police officers if they were found to have colluded.
The death toll in what is now being described as Maharashtra's worst building collapse in a decade has risen to 48 and over 60 are said to be injured. A woman was, meanwhile, rescued alive after being trapped for over 24 hours under the debris.
According to the Thane Deputy Collector, the dead included 12 children and five women and over 36 people have sustained serious injuries in the incident.
The National Disaster Response Force, which is leading the rescue efforts, said many children are still trapped in the debris. Thane Police Commissioner KP Raghuvanshi said, "Rescue operation is on. Our first priority was to rescue as many people we can. It was a newly made building. Efforts are on to nab the builders."
Meanwhile, Municipal Commissioner RA Rajeev has said that the building was built on forest land and two notices were sent to the building. "We had repeatedly asked the forest department to take action. We had asked MSEB to cut electricity to the building. We have issued total notices to about 250 illegal buildings in this belt. We try forcibal removal. It is not easy. Also it's a congested area. Our equipment is unusable here," he said.
Meanwhile, the police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the builder, who remains untraceable. The incident took place at 6:30 pm on Thursday following which fire tenders and medical teams were rushed to the spot.
According to Deputy Collector Manoj Gohad, the building in the Shil Dhaigar locality was unauthorised and was occupied up to the fourth floor.
MNS legislator from Kalyan township of Thane, Ramesh Patil alleged that he had complained to the municipal commissioner last week that the building was unauthorised and unfit for occupation, but no action was taken on it.
With additional information from PTI